Back in January I made a pair of leg warmers that had increases in the leg section and were a complete failure. There was no way they would fit a child. I got some more yarn and attempted again.
The pattern is Ballerina Bloom which I found on Ravelry. This time I used the magic loop method and knit them in the round that way. I am a big magic loop fan, it was much easier to knit the leg warmers this way. For the first leg warmer I used a row counter to count how much ribbing I did on the bottom cuff, noted this down on a piece of paper and was aiming to do the same amount on the top cuff. When I came to actually doing the top cuff I was away for the weekend, I grabbed my project but forgot to check if this vital piece of paper was in it. I had to guesstimate by measuring how long to make the cuff. A cuff doesn’t take long so once I finished it and started on the second leg warmers I had to once again guess how many rows to do.
This time I only did 2 sets of increases per leg warmer. I increased on the 12th and 24th row. This gave you some extra room but it didn’t make them too baggy. With magic loop you don’t have a seam running up the side of them so they were smoother on the inside too, this also allowed them to stretch more as there wasn’t a tight seam. I would make this pattern again with the increases but once again I wouldn’t add as many increases as the pattern calls for, after a couple of increases I think you need to make a judgement call if they are big enough for your child or if you have to add another couple.
Last year a very clever person came up with the idea of making a crocheted water balloon and as soon as I saw the idea I thought these are brilliant one day I will make them for sure. Well I have decided this year I am going to make them as my Christmas gift to the majority of the kids that I make for.
Now I know you are thinking a crocheted water balloon what the heck??? How does that work? So with a traditional water balloon you fill it up with water, tie it up and then toss it at someone. With a crocheted water balloon or water bomb you don’t fill it up instead you soak it in water for a few minutes to plump up then you can toss it at someone, you can keep doing this until all the water is out then place it in some water to plump back up. They are made from a really thick yarn that will absorb all the water, similar concept to how a microfibre cloth absorbs water. The pattern calls for Bernat Baby Blanket. The ball is a big 300g ball which is like the size of a football. It is thick and squishy.
The pattern says to use a 9mm hook. I have made them using a mixture of both 9mm and 8mm and to be honest there isn’t much difference in the size once you are finished. I can’t tell the difference between the ones I have made with the different hooks. I’m using Clover Amour hooks. They are comfortable on my hands, I invested in all the larger size hooks just after Christmas once I decided I was making these.
I know at the start I was putting an extra row in them by accident so I do have a few taller ones but the majority of the ones I am now making are about 6″ tall. To be honest it doesn’t matter what size they turn out they are still going to be played with. The reality is you can make these any size you like.
In Australia it isn’t the easiest to get the particular yarn the pattern is calling for. During the post Christmas sales I noticed Spotlight sold it so I stocked up on the yarn to make these but I could only get 2 plain colours that I thought would look fun. I purchased online 4 balls of each colour and they arrived in a big box that luckily Mr StitchNSew was able to bring home from the post office for me as there was no way I could carry it. I underestimated how many I would get from each ball, I basically calculated 1 ball per child thinking I would get about 5 balloons each. It turns out I am getting between 13-14 out of each ball. I’m happy with that it just means that each child will get more making it a nice Christmas gift.
There are many great things I love about these water balloons
- Environmentally friendly – No rubber balloons you need collect all the tiny pieces and toss in the bin.
- Reusable – Toss them in the washing machine to wash again for next time again better for the environment
- Great for any age – Under supervision of course a child of any age can fill these up and toss them about (even adults)
- Can be used in the pool – Who doesn’t like a water fight in the pool
- Super quick to make – These don’t involve a lot of counting so super easy to make
- Perfect to make in bulk
To give myself a break I decided I would start making these in January and work on them slowly. For 2 maybe 3 families of kids I make for these are the only toy they will get this year for Christmas. It is a pretty fun gift and I know they will enjoy them. These are really simple to hook up. I can sit in front of the tv and whip up 2 -3 in no time. I’m just doing a ball of yarn at a time placing the finished ones in a box. By starting to make them so early I’m taking the pressure off myself to finish them by a set deadline. I don’t want my gift making to stress me out this year. This is the perfect Christmas gift project.
Last year I made 4 pairs of leg warmers as gifts. They were successful to a degree but admittedly they may have been a little small as I didn’t put any increase rows in them to street over the calf area. I used the Ballerina Bloom pattern for my starting cast on count and length of the leg warmer but ignored the rest of the pattern in regards to the increases. At the time I wanted mindless knitting and didn’t feel like counting rows I just wanted to knit.
I wanted to make a pair as a gift this year but decided to follow the pattern this time. I had trouble from the start. I had to learn how to do the M1 left and right stitch which I found on YouTube but I couldn’t find a version where they did it knitting the magic loop way where you knit your item on circular needles. I was trying to get my head around learning the stitch I didn’t have the brain power at the time to then convert it to magic loop method myself. Another issue I had was knowing the increase rows would make the leg warmers larger than they were last time that I would run out of yarn so I decided I would do the cuffs on each end with leftovers. No big deal but it meant I had to remember to switch yarn and even more ends to weave in when finished.
Recently I was staying at a hotel for work for a few days with a couple of hours to kill each morning so I thought perfect time to sit and knit my leg warmers. On my first attempt I thought was doing it correct but I misread the pattern in regards to increases and put my increases in every row after I initially knitted a certain number of rows. Something like I knitted 6 rows then increased every row for the next 8 rows as the pattern said repeat row 2 (my increase row) 8 times. I’m still learning knitting patterns and in my mind that’s what it was telling me to do. I ended up with an upside down trapezium shaped piece of knitting which I knew was wrong. I ripped it back to where I changed colour from the cuff and started again. That was the only good thing about having the coloured cuff area it was like a starting point reference marker. There is a youtube clip that accompanies this pattern which I did find useful to learn how they were doing the M1 stitches. The only criticism I have with this clip it doesn’t explain on how to where to place your increase rows. The pattern is aimed at a beginner knitter but it assumes you know how to read that section of the pattern so it jumps from doing one increase row to starting the top cuff.
After some thinking I realised I needed to repeat the pattern from the beginning and space out my increase rows – note: this still could be wrong! I haven’t been to knitting guild to check. I sat down with pen and paper and noted down when I should do my increases. This made it a little easier and I knitted away.
I finished my first leg warmer having put my increases in the correct spot and did my top cuff. I was making the largest size for a child but it did look a little large. I thought once I seam it together it will look ok and be smaller.
I made my second leg warmer the same as the first increasing at the rows I had written out. Once they were both finished I seamed them up. They looked big. I tried them on (I won’t show you a photo of it on my hairy leg) They fitted me although a bit tight. These would fit a small adult not a child like they were supposed to do. I was really disappointed in them. I was going to put them in the charity donation pile but a friend said they may fit her. If they fit she can have them if not I will donate them.
This pattern has failed. There are too many increases in it that they are just too big. It was only when I finished them that I read what others who have made the pattern said they also found that the pattern was too big. I have learnt a few things from this pattern. I can now do M1 left and right stitch. I am confident that I can pick up stitches if I have too and rip my work back if I am working on stockinette stitch . I realised I don’t like working on pieces flat and seaming them.
I did purchase more yarn and have started these leg warmers again. I’m magic looping them this time and they are working better for me. I will post them once they are done.
Last year I started watching pod casts in particular a knitting one called the Grocery Girls. The Grocery Girls are a pair of sisters from Canada who love to talk all things yarn. I love watching them as they are hilarious. A warning watching their podcasts leads to your to make list growing substantially as they always keep showing wonderful designers and patterns and you think I really want to make that! One designer they introduced me to was Joji Locatelli who does some wonderful shawl patterns. As far as knitting goes I would call myself an advanced beginner so complicated patterns still freak me out. On the podcast they mentioned a good beginner shawl of Joji’s was Pure Joy so after having it on my to knit list for a while I finally gave it an attempt. It is a crescent shaped shawl so has one straight edge with the other edge going in a semi circle shape expanding out.
This wasn’t a stash busting project I did buy yarn specifically for this shawl but I have made it now so the yarn isn’t still sitting in my yarn drawer taking up space. It is made in 4ply yarn. I wanted 2 contrasting colours so I used Fyberspates Vivacious in Blue Lagoon (darker blue) and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Tooth Fairy (white colour) After finishing my shawl this is all that I have leftover.
Before I start I should say the pattern did say to block the shawl once you finish it but I haven’t. I do have a few tiny misshapen sections which may have corrected themselves had I blocked this. This shawl starts at one end using a provisional cast on garter tab then you do a series of short row wedges to grow it into the curved shape. It sounds complicated but it is not. The short rows are all garter stitch and every so often the pattern has you do a row of yarn overs to form the eyelets. I read through the pattern and was pretty sure I had it correct in my head but I did take it to knitting guild to double check I was reading it right. That is the great thing about meeting with fellow knitters in real life everyone is only to happy to help with your knitting. My beginning section has a slight hump to it. It is only when it is laying flat on a table do you notice this.
I did stray from the pattern a little in the design way. I was using light yarn to do the majority of my garter rows but towards the end I was worried I was going to run out of yarn and not have enough. Perhaps I panicked a little unnecessarily but I don’t know how to estimate if I will have enough yarn or not. I decided to do alternating stripes of the darker yarn on one of the wedges. This is why I call myself an advanced beginner I didn’t think about the right side and wrong side of my work. I just thought you could only incorporate a new yarn at the start of a row so when I changed colours my stripes were on the wrong side of my work. Does it matter… No! Do I care… No! When I wear my shawls I just throw them on I never look at which is the right side and wrong side.
Both ends of the shawl have a curl to it. I am thinking perhaps I pulled my yarn too tight as I was dropping one colour and picking up the next. I was trying to keep my yarn relaxed. Since it is on both ends let’s just call it a design feature but I don’t think others who have knit this have this happen to their work.
Another slight variation I did was the last bottom row of eyelets should have been done in the darker colour so the entire wedge is that colour. I did these eyelets in the light colour. As mentioned I never blocked the shawl. I guess blocking would show the eyelets more and stretched out some of misshapen areas but this looks pretty good as is. It feels lovely and soft and I know the more I wash it the softer it will become. Even though the lighter yarn is a sock yarn which has nylon in it you don’t feel it. My Pollux shawl is made from a sock yarn and it is getting softer after each wash. I agree with the Grocery Girls this was a great beginner shawl to start on. The instructions were well written and easy to follow, this really was an easy knit. I have now made a shawl which has wedges and row repeats. Would I knit this again? Yes but I think I would choose 2 colours with more contrast to them. I love the colours I chose, they work well together but I think if you really want each section to pop with an impact you need 2 highly contrasting colours. I do love this shawl and next winter I can see myself in this a lot.
A temperature blanket has been on my mental to make list for some time. If you have never heard of the concept a temperature blanket is a blanket where each row represents the weather temperature for whatever time period you are making it for. You have a choice of the colour range you will use but the rest of the design of the blanket is out of your control. If you didn’t want to make a blanket you could also do this with a scarf. Full confession not a great deal of planning went into this blanket. I only decided I would start one for 2018 as I was going to bed at 9:30 NYE (yes as you can see I am a big party person) Wine was not involved in making this decision 🙂 Mr StitchNSew has taken an interest in recent times in recording the daily temperatures for his own enjoyment so I thought why not finally give a temperature blanket a try and make him a blanket at the same time.
The amount of colours you use in your blanket is completely up to you. You allocate a temperature range to each colour so for example you might say each colour represents a 5 degree range in temperature so you look at what your minimum and maximum temperatures will likely be and decide how many colours you want to use from that. Most people go for a rainbow choice of colours. The concept is lighter colours for cooler weather and darker colours for the hotter weather. In my cupboard I had a stash of unopened balls of Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I had purchased for other blankets and never made. As I had chosen the colours they were mostly blues and greens. I put them all on my craft table and told Mr StitchNSew to pick his colours and choose his temperature ranges. He has decided on the following:
- 12-15 – Spring Green
- 16-18 – Sherbet
- 19-21 – Cloud Blue
- 22-24 – Aspen
- 25-27 – Turquoise
- 28-30 – Storm Blue
- 31-33 – Sage
- 34-36 – Aster
- 37-39 – Kelly Green
- 40-42 – Green
- 43-45 – Bottle
I really like the colours that he has chosen there is a good mix of light and dark even though they are all blues and greens.
To record the temperatures I have created some charts in Microsoft Excel for him to fill out each day. I printed these on recycled paper. I try to print a lot of my craft patterns and charts on recycled paper (pages that have only had stuff printed on them on one side) if I can. Some patterns aren’t suitable for scrap paper if you need to trace over them as the print from the other side of the page shows through. Back to these charts. Each month is on one page. I have made the squares big enough for the numbers to be written in and I can tick them off as I complete the row so I know where I am up to. The good thing about doing these in excel you can create one and copy it for each month just adjusting the month at the top and how many days in it.
I’m doing this blanket in crochet. The pattern I am using is called Linen stitch or commonly known as Moss stitch (yes if you know me in real life I have done this on purpose) I didn’t want an overly wide blanket just something you can put across yourself on the lounge. Also I am being realistic if this blanket was the width of a bed I wouldn’t get it done this year as there are 365 rows going into this blanket and I want to stay on track with it. To start it I chained 180 stitches. After the first 6 rows I am estimating the size will be 40.5″ x 90″ which should be a nice lounge blanket.
This is only the beginning but I am already happy with it. I do have to watch I am doing the stitch correctly as admittedly I have had to fudge one or two stitches already where I forgot to chain between stitches. We are still haven’t decided if we will do a row of say black between each month to separate it all. I am going to have to think about yarn tail management soon. If possible I am not cutting the tails between rows but I know I will have to particularly in Sydney when our temps can jump day by day. There will be a lot of ends to weave in. I’m not sure how much of each ball I will use. Some of the balls I have only one of others I have up to 6 as these were purchased for other blankets. I can always order more as I am not worried about dye lots just colours.
Why should kids have all the fun with an advent calendar. This year I noticed a couple of craft related advent calendars including one from Dingo Dyeworks which is an Australia Indie yarn dyer based in Western Australia.
The calendar consisted of 24 Dingo Tails (25g skeins) plus a full 100g skein of Dingo Dyeworks Ridgy-Didge yarn which is 4ply Merino/Nylon blend. The yarn was specially dyed for the calendar so that you could knit the Adventurous Wrap by Ambah which you also got included as part of the calendar package. Your package arrived with each skein in a tiny box numbered so you could open one each day.
Now full confession…. I only lasted about 12 days of opening the boxes individually before just opening them all up including the last box which was meant to be opened Christmas Day. I’m not really a Christmas person or present opening person so I’m now thinking I’m also not an advent calendar person either. The way the boxes were numbered was so that you could open the box and use the colour yarn in a knit-along on Ravelry to make the wrap. You knew the pattern you were making but the colours you were adding were a mystery. To be honest I was opening boxes each day and they seemed to be all in the same colour tone which wasn’t really my colour palate so I was getting a little bit bored with it. This has nothing to do with the yarn dyer or the yarn itself it just boiled down to personal taste.
By day 10 or 11 I wasn’t sure if I would even use the yarn to knit the wrap or use them in another project. I think on day 12 I was wanting to clean up my craft area so I opened all the boxes so I could put the yarn away. When you look at all the yarn colours together they are lovely. Admittedly there are no blues but there are plenty of other gorgeous colours. Looking at the big picture of yarn I will use them in the wrap. I’m not a big fan of the fade style which is how the boxes were numbered to use in that combination I’m more into contrast with colours. I think I will need to print the pattern and play with my yarn to work out the order I will knit each colour. From looking at photos on Instagram I see that once the yarn is knitted up it looks slightly different so I will take that into consideration when planning my wrap.
The large skein we got is so pretty. It like a combination of dark berries and maroon. Again I need to look at the pattern to see where I would place it. I’m actually looking forward to knitting this wrap now. I love the Adventurous pattern, it is a pattern I would select myself if I was searching for a wrap pattern. The colours in the advent calendar are taking me outside my comfort zone which is a good thing even though it is a bit daunting.
I’m not regretting getting the advent calendar this year. From this experience I have that discovered as much as the concept of a craft advent calendar is a great idea it isn’t suited to me. I don’t get excited opening a small gift every day, I like to plan out a project in full before I start it, I like to be in control of the colours I use. I actually think part of the enjoyment I get when making a project is the planning process before hand, picking the colours, deciding how to use them. Getting the calendar has helped me define all this which is a good thing.
Introducing Poop Dude!
I wanted to make a Christmas present for an 8 year old boy who wasn’t into little kids things anymore. I knew he had seen the Emoji movie so I wanted to make something with an emoji theme. On Ravelry I found the pattern Emoji Dudes by Adonia Neona Emerson which was perfect. It is a crochet pattern written in US terms. I used Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I had in my stash.
This toy was fairly quick to make. At first I started using a crochet hook with a metal grip but found my hand was really aching. With amigurmui toys you pulls the stitches tight so not to leave gaps between the stitches and I was really gripping the hook and putting strain through my hand. After I finished the head I had to order a 3.75mm clover amour hook before I could finish the rest of the body and the limbs. Once I started with the new hook it was a breeze to finish as the hook was so comfortable.
For me amigurmui toys are not something I can do in front of the tv, they involve so much counting that I need to concentrate on that only. Poop Dude was fun to make. Did I ever think I would crochet sh#%^ no but now I have 🙂 This is a great little pattern for your stash, it has 3 toys in the set which are all easy to make up.