Football

I have finished my first ever crocheted toy a little football.

I was wanting to make a football for a newborn gift. I knew I could sew one but I wanted to try making one out of yarn for a change. I searched online and found a great little pattern on Interweave. It was in US terms and I am used to using UK terms so it took me a little bit to get my head around which stitch they were referring too in it. It is a very simple pattern and worked up pretty quickly. The only thing I found a little confusing with the pattern and I’m not totally happy with is the top laced up section. The pattern just says to refer to a picture on the page on how to lace it up but the picture doesn’t give you a good indication on how you actually do it. My one doesn’t look too bad but it would have been easier with actual instructions. The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK which is an acrylic and I used a 3.5mm hook.

I had never done any form of shaping before in crochet. This was a really great pattern to start on. The ball in made up 4 pieces that are joined to form the oval shape. All but one turned out the same size, I have no idea why but one was a little larger and I can’t remember if it was my first one or second one. It all joined up the same and you can’t notice on the final piece. The only thing I did differently to the pattern instructions was they said to slip stitch around the edge of each piece and I did a UK double crochet instead. Once I joined all my pieces there was a gap in either end which I closed up using some of my end tails. All other end tails I didn’t weave in I just left them long inside. I was fastening off each time I joined a piece I just wasn’t cutting the yarn so it is secure and shouldn’t unravel.

I’m now inspired to try doing other crocheted toys. I did each panel in sections and marked every 10 rows so if I did have to frog back I had row placings so I could keep count. It was fun to do but was something that had to be done with total concentration, no talking, no tv.

I would like to mention that Interweave had really good customer service. There was a mix up and I accidentally purchased 2 copies of the pattern at once and due to trying to work out the exchange rate in my head I didn’t notice until I got my receipt emailed to me and saw the quantity as 2. I emailed Interweave and explained what had happened, they replied back very quickly and refunded the cost of one pattern within a couple of days. They were wonderful.

Cassiy

Knitted WIRES Pouches

I have been knitting the outer pouches for WIRES for a number of years. The outer pouches need to be made from 100% wool so that the animals once placed in cloth pouch linings can still breathe inside this outer pouch. A rescue career only goes through about one of these outer pouches a day per animal as opposed to the 5-6 they go through of the inner pouch linings.

I could never find set a knitting pattern only guidelines on finished size and needle size so over the years I have been knitting these various ways. I started by knitting 2 squares and seaming them along the 2 sides and bottom to make up the pouch until I realised if I knitted one big rectangle and folded it in half I wouldn’t have to do a bottom seam only side seams. Over the years the way I do my seams has changed I have tried whip stitch, blanket stitch, backstitch and in recent times I have been crocheting my seams together with a chain stitch. I have a tendency to knit my rectangles and once the piece is off my needles place it in a bag waiting to be seamed. I only remember to the seams when I’m due to send of some of the cloth linings off and scramble to see if any of the outer bags are complete. I thought there has to be a better way.

Over the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of knitting and searching out knitting patterns when I started thinking about the way the pouches are constructed and wondered if they can be done on circular needles. I did a quick google search and it turns out yes someone has now put instructions on how to do them on circular needles!

I had some cable needles in my stash but unfortunately they were too big (I didn’t know about the magic loop method) Once I cast on my stitches I couldn’t easily join them in the round as my cable was too long and my needles kept getting in the way. I went to Morris and Sons to see if they had smaller cables. They suggested I try a 40cm Knit Pro one with smaller length needles

The needles are so tiny only measuring just over 6cm from the cable connection point. The shop assistant warned some knitter’s don’t like using them as they are so very short. This is when she mentioned the magic loop method and demonstrated it for me. I decided to try the small needles and cable and turn to magic loop using my existing cables if it didn’t work.

Once you cast on your stitches it looks like it won’t fit around to make the loop easily but remembering knitting stretches and these are tiny needle it works. There looks like there is a small little gap when you join your loop but they that closes up once you get into your second round.

When I knitted my pouches previously I knitted over my tail end in the second row so it was one less end to weave in at the finish. You can do the same thing with this method. Even though your working on a small cable and shorter needles it isn’t fiddly. I like the feel of it in my hands. Every so often you need to slide the work around the cable when you feel like your starting to pull the stitches, that is easy to do and you get in the habit of regularly doing it even before it starts to pull.

The reason I decided to try circular needles was so I only had one seam to do at the end which was the bottom seam to close the pouch off. The amazing shop assistant suggested I could do a 3 needle bind off which avoid having to do a bottom seam. I couldn’t believe it I could actually make a pouch in one hit with no additional seams at the end!

Comparing the 2 methods of making the pouches the circular needles are defiantly the method I am using now. I must admit previously I was probably making my pouches a little large as I wasn’t sure how much they would come in once my seams were done. With straight needles I occasionally loose stitches or gain stitches the rectangles are not always straight therefore once seamed sometimes looks misshapen.

With no side seams or bottom seam they are much lighter and less bulkier. The top of my pouch has curled a little and just reading the instructions now it says to purl so many rows at the start I’m guess that would so stop the curl. To be honest I am probably not going to do that. One of the reasons why I love knitting pouches is that you can go on auto pilot and you only have to measure once you know it is coming to the length you need. The curl is only small and doesn’t really make that much of impact.

Pouches on circular needles is a life changer for me. I am actually doing more knitting of them now as I can pick up the needles and do a few stitches any time I have free. I don’t have to worry about finishing at row or turning my work. One thing I did find was it was easier to cast on my stitches using the cable as one needle and using the 3rd needle as a second needle to cast on. The way I see it is that I’m going to be casting off one pouch and casting on another immediately so that 3rd needle is out anyway. I still have a few rectangles that need to be seamed up but all future pouches will be made this way. I may even invest in a second set of these smaller needles so that I will always have a pouch at a stage where I can just knit and not have to worry how long until I need to cast off, this is particularly important if I am taking my knitting out to a café or events with me.

Cassiy

 

 

 

 

Double Knitting – First Attempt

Double knitting is something I had never tried before, last weekend one of the very talented knitters in my Knitters Guild group ran a workshop on it so I had the chance to learn how to do it.

In double knitting you are knitting a double thickness of fabric. The way that you switch your yarns and stitches results in only the purl stitches (smooth looking stitches) showing on the outside of your work. It sounds complicated to get your head around and you cast on with 2 strands of yarn but treat them as one stitch which adds to the confusion. After the first few rows it starts to make sense. You can use this technique to make each side of the fabric a different colour the entire piece or  you can twist your yarn colours around to form patterns within the piece. The result in a negative image of the pattern on the reverse side of the piece. In our workshop we worked off a chart to create a picture of a house. I only got the first half dozen or so rows done but I can see the picture starting to develop.

Prior to the workshop I had seen items done with the negative image in reverse and I really liked it but I had no idea what it was called or how to do it. I really like double knitting now that I have learnt how to do it. To be honest I am not going to finish the house, I used scrap yarn and will take it off my needles and return it to my scrap yarn bag. I do want to try this technique on a dishcloth or maybe get some 8 or 12 ply wool and make a hot pad trivet with it for the kitchen. It is very slow technique to work up in that you have to keep changing the yarn colours between your fingers and switching between knit and purl stitches. You have to really concrete on what you are doing so you don’t make a mistake in your pattern which means no auto knitting. I guess depending on the thickness of the yarn you use and how long you want to spend doing it you could make clothing other than scarves with the technique. I don’t think I would even have the attention span to do a scarf in it, a trivet I can handle.

Cassiy

Valiant Cowl

I have recently discovered Noro Tokonatsu yarn, it is a mixture of silk, cotton and viscose. It was love at first touch as it is so soft. I had no idea what I would make so I brought 3 balls of light blue colour which is Shade 7 from Morris and Sons.

I went on Ravelry to have a look for patterns. If you haven’t heard of Ravelry and you like to knit or crochet I urge you to go check it out. Ravelry is like a combination of Pinterest and Pattern Review but for yarn based projects. You can find lots of patterns and links for any yarn project you can think of. I did a search of Tokonatsu and found this wonderful little pattern by Doris & Wilfred designs that just happened to be made in the shade colour I had.

This is a really great pattern to make. I have never followed a 8 row repeat of a pattern before which is how this cowl is made but it was really easy to do. This pattern only uses stocking stitch (one row knit, one row purl) To make the elongated pattern you wrap the yarn around the needle one row then drop all the stitches the next row. I have never done anything like this before but it was very simple.

To make it easier for myself I actually wrote out the instructions for each row so at a quick glance I could see what I needed to do. I was using a clicker to keep track of my rows but I also kept a written tally. I added an extra 2½ pattern repeats to what the pattern says to do. When I finished the in total 9 pattern repeats the pattern said to knit it just wasn’t long enough for me so I added the extra on. Confession I did have a minor brain snap on my about 5th or 6th last row and dropped the loops doing the wrong stitch but you don’t even notice it. I’d put the cowl down and forgot to click and tally down my row so when I picked it up again my row count didn’t match what I needed to do. To join the ends to make it circular  I did a single crochet stitch seam.

noro

This pattern only uses a single 50g ball of yarn. Even with the extra rows I added I still only just used the one. When I brought the yarn the staff from Morris and Sons said I could return any yarn I didn’t use so I’m going to take the remain 2 balls back and swap it for other colours.

Cassiy

 

Electronic Yarn Winder

Last year I brought myself a Boye electronic yarn winder. Until recently it had been sitting under my bed unopened. I had to frog back a crochet project so I decided to break it out of the box to re-wind the ball.

ball-winder

So as the name suggests this plugs into the wall and does all the manual winding of the yarn to create the yarn cake for you. I found this great YouTube clip on how to use it. I first tried it out on the ball of Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton I was frogging back. Bendigo Woollen Mills balls / skeins are 200g so they are quite large. It did handle it but towards the end it struggled as the yarn cake got larger and larger. The machine slowed down and I had to help it a bit. I put a photo up online and a friend commented that cotton can be hard to work into a ball.

cotton-yarn-cake

In the end I decided to cut the yarn and make a second cake. I haven’t weighed the yarns to see how much is in each cake. A yarn cake is the description given to balls of yarn when they are wound like this. They allow you to use the centre pull method when your working with your yarn so the ball / cake doesn’t go jumping around the table. I did use the large cake for a project after this and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t a fan of the centre pull method on such a large ball. The yarn is taken from the inside of the ball out. The cake is starting to collapse and I kept getting yarn spurts where entire chunks were coming out. I’m not sure if it was due to the size of the cake. I guess next time I use one I will see.

ball-winder-smaller-ball

The second lot of yarn I tried out was smaller 50g ball. It was a cotton mixture. The machine easily made it into a cake without effort. It took a matter of minutes to wind it into the cake shape. I used this cake on my yarn spindle using the regular method of using the yarn from the outside and I had no trouble with it all.

ball-winder-small-ball-success

Now that I know the machine isn’t as scary as it looks I’m going to be using it more. The machine is easy to use. I had it placed on my cutting table and it suctioned on well to it and didn’t move (there is a giant suction cap on the underside of it) I want to make all my skeins into cakes now. I’m going to try it again on the cotton. I might make a project with the smaller black cotton cake to see how it goes with the centre pull method. I like the flatter shape that the yarn cake has. It would be great for stacking your yarn if that is how you store your stuff.

Cassiy

 

 

 

Charity Face Cloths

charity-face-washers

This year my department at work is collecting for the Share The Dignity “Its In The Bag” campaign. The idea is to get an old handbag (or purchase one from a charity shop) and fill the bag with items that a woman in crisis accommodation or who is homeless might need. I crocheted these facecloths to go inside the different bags. Someone else donated cakes of soap so together they will put in a few of the bags. These took me no time at all to whip up, crochet in front of the tv. I like that I can use my crochet skills (even if they are just basic) to give a little happiness to someone in need. I think this is a wonderful campaign and I’m honoured to be able to contribute to it in a small way.

Cassiy

Pamuke Blanket Finished

The good news is that my Pamuke Blanket is finished and all wrapped up to give to my trainer next month.

Pamuke Finished

The finished blanket measures approximately 62″ x 67″ The main part of the blanket is made is a granny stripe. I just keep doing row after row until I used 5 balls of each colour. For the border I did 3 rows of regular trebles and a final row of crab stitch to finish it off. I really liked the crab stitch edge. It gave a little bit of texture and difference to the blanket but still kept it very simple looking.

This is the largest blanket I’ve made I think. As I was making it didn’t seem that big it was only when it was placed flat on the queen size bed you get a true a sense of the size of it. I am so happy with the way it has turned out. Even though it is a wedding gift I wanted to keep it simple. This blanket is just one you can grab and use and when it gets dirty stick it in the washing machine. A gift you can easily use, to me that is the perfect gift.

Cassiy