Building A Boyfriend

This last weekend the Top Floor Art gallery was all abuzz as we hosted our Build A Boyfriend workshop. The day was filled with chatter, laughter, and squeals of glee as we brought our creations to life from our imaginations. Heather created a half dragon, half man from Dungeons and Dragons lore; Anja modeled hers off of actor Richard Speight, Jr. as Gabriel in the show Supernatural. Emma worked on the dashing David Tennant as Dr Who.

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We began with cutouts of our boyfriends and stitched them together. We all had a giggle as we stuffed them, sewed them together and began to embroider their features. The fun part comes when deciding on hair style, eye colour, facial expressions, and other details!

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The concentration was fierce in the gallery.

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The day finished on a high as the boyfriends were completed and we could all stand back and admire our handiwork!

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img_6363.jpgI couldn’t resist making an homage to Stephen McClean, artist and co-owner of Top Floor Art!

Frozen Fever

… has had a tight grip on me, too, for quite some time now. It appears, though, that this especially shows when prompted by others.

But let’s start at the beginning…

About a year ago, as talks and planning of our annual pilgrimage to the Dublin Knitting & Stitching Show slowly began to take shape, the lovely Terri of A Fine Fish Yarns was looking for willing sample knitters. It was, I believe, her first time at the show (she’ll be back this year, one hears…) and she wanted a variety of garments and accessories to display her beautiful colorways.

I jumped at the chance. Duh. I was Hermione Granger when Snape asks those random questions. My hand was so far up in the air it touched the ceiling.

To get rid of me (I am convinced that’s why), Terri gave me a lovely skein in her Frozen-inspired colorway “Anna’s Frozen Heart”, and asked me to knit a pair of finger-less mitts.

Off I went to Ravelry, but, alas, I could not find a pattern that suited. They were all either so plain they would have been absolutely boring, or way too intricate. I was looking for something simple, yet with an interesting touch, that still managed to show off the yarn.

What do we do when we can’t find what we’re looking for? That’s right, we make something up. Thus, “Twisted Heart” was born.

 

Now, this is the first pattern I designed myself. That I wrote down, anyway.

The name was Nikki’s idea.I just agreed.

I have since made a second pair, in order to retrace my steps and weed out mistakes. Tweaked the thumb gusset a bit. Put it into a readable set of instructions. It has been test knit and deemed appropriate for publication, but I have yet to find the heart to do so. I guess I should probably do so before the Dublin Show this year, right?

Right?

Rainbows to work

Well I am a very lucky duck.

Our very own, Belfast based, indie dyer heard my pleas for the perfect rainbow.
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Two skeins of this lovely have been given to me, (in exchange for a sum of money of course), and now I have a question.

What do I make with this delicious treat?

Livorem is a simple triangular shawl done with two colours to make the variegations POP. I would invert the rainbow for the stripes.

Nautilus is a shawl that knit from the centre outwards using yarn overs to create the unique Fibonacci inspired shape.

Talisman is designed to show off colour changes in the yarn with just enough pattern accents to keep the knitter interested but does not detract from the beauty of the yarn.

Bohemian is a simple fun knit that plays with texture and shows its influence within its name.

Help me out will you?

Countdown to the crafting New Year! 

I don’t know about you but September feels like the real new year to me! Kids going back to school and Autumn/winter rolling ’round again (a knitters time to shine! 😎)…. It’s a time to reprioritise the ravelry queue!

Though it got me thinking of all the summer projects planned that will have to wait… (Possibly a whole year! 🤔) as the weight/colour/style might not be right for Autumn. One such project is a dress I was planning for my 3 year old daughter. It was to have a knitted bodice and a fabric skirt..


(Yarn LITLG garden party, fabric Sewing bee fabrics) as you can see it isn’t really ‘cross season’! And if I rush it now she can wear it for a couple of weeks and it won’t fit her next summer! 😁

I was planning to have the dress and a wee jumper (Raindrops- tin can knits) and my Lumpy space.. And of course my  TTL MKAL…. All knit this summer!!


And all I managed was an impromptu Hat as a gift for a friend…


My lack of progress made me realise that perhaps my choice of veiwing pleasure of an evening isn’t helping… Maybe Stranger things and Orphan black are too exciting for me to get any crafting done in the short space of time between getting the 3 kids to bed and the husband coming home! Maybe I need to find some mindless tv (I used to get more done when I was preggers and watched a horror movie every night! 😳) Or listen to podcasts..

What do you like to do while you’re knitting? 😃

Tricks of the trade

Most people think that knitting and crocheting is just a matter of some pointy sticks and a ball of wool.

In most cases its a bit more complicated that that. Considering the fact that the needles and hooks alone come in a variety of materials –  bamboo, wood, carbon, plastic, milk protein (yup, it exists), and then there’s the straight needles, fixed circular, interchangeable, Tunisian crochet etc etc etc. So even the starting material isn’t as straight forward as a set of needles or a hook. You don’t want to get me started on the yarn itself –  its not always wool you know!

On Tuesday as I was battling my way though another repeat of my shawl (t-minus 6 days now) I got to thinking about all the other things knitters and crocheters hauled around with them on a regular basis. (It sometimes seems that we carry more stuff than a mum with a newborn!)

Even before you start creating you might have to wind your skein into a nice neat ball, so you’ll be breaking out the swift and ballwinder!

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Once that’s done, you’ll need to keep the ball clean. You’ve a few options at this point. Project bags are always good but then there is a Yarn it

The thing about project bags are the possibilities. If you someone like I do (Coug20160803_223937_LLShJaeleCough) then they can turn your bag dreams into a reality. She made me this one for my birthday a few years ago…nothing wrong with ponies at my age!

You can have millions of pockets for your bits and bobs, drawstring or zip, handle for carrying, fabric of your choice, whatever size you wish and whatever style. Its truly up to you when it comes to having you the bag of your dreams.

 

 

As for the Yarnit, it just looks funky. The rubber bit at the bottom20160803_214318_LLS comes off so you can keep it in your cupholder in your car, and there’s storage  in that rubber  too. The yarn feeds though the holes so its not rolling around the floor and you can see at a glance how much yarn you have left (and then panic cuz its not enough and you need an emergency skein!)

 

You think we’re done? Not even close. Now you need all your bits and pieces….the measuring tape, the scissors, the stitch markers, and a handy little device I should have had with me on Wednesday but didn’t….a stitch saver.20160803_204012 It would have saved Anja a lot of bother had I had one with me, but I dug it out when I got home and chained it to my knitting lanyard.

So what does this device do? Exactly what it says on the tin. It’ll help pick up those dropped stitches without you resorting to hyperventilating….so I may have placed an order at Atomic Knitting for at least 5. Hey, I need them in EVERY bag I’ve got! Better safe than sorry.

Your crafting kit is now complete. You should be able to face any crafting emergency should it arise.

But you need 2 more things…simple things really but sometimes hard to come by… friends who are willing to fix your mistakes and a good cuppa!

So there you have it, my essential guide to the crafters essential toolkit.

What piece of kit can you not live without??

Thank you for joining us today…

… for a very special episode of…

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If you are intrigued by our cast go ahead and have a look at the Top Floor Art Gallery in Saintfield, Co. Down, where our lovely Jaele will be offering a Build A Boyfriend Workshop on the 20th of August.

You could build your own Cas, Sam, Dean, Crowley, or even Idris Elba. (There has been talk of Chris Evans as well…

So don’t be shy, head on over and check it out!

Planning and Knitting

We all do it,  it is one of the reasons Ravelry exists. We have a list of things we wish to make; be it for ourselves or our loved ones and that list is long.

If you are like me it is also quite complex because I NEVER knit to gauge, for anything. This means I need to adjust almost every single pattern I use.

So I am going to show you the tools I use while knitting that isn’t needles and string.

Firstly I start with what is usually considered a big profanity in our little group a gauge swatch   little square of TEST knitting.
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I cast on 10 more stitches than the gauge pattern suggests should take up 10 cm or 4 inches. I then knit in garter stitch for 5 rows, then switch to a stocking stitch with a 5 stitch garter stitch border.

I will knit as many rows as I cast on stitches, then I will switch back to garter stitch for a further 5 rows, (give or take, depends on where I’m knitting and what’s on the telly.)

Now I take me gauge swatch test knitting and count using the handy little gadget pictured above, it highlights the stitches and rows so I get a fairly accurate count.

Next comes the fun part, the math. Using what I get from the little square I take the pattern and convert it to what I need.

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My chicken scratch for all to see.

I read the pattern, channelling my inner Dumbledore, and figure out where measurements are needed. (It is usually very easy because a typical pattern will give multiple numbers for all the sizes the pattern accommodates.) I then substitute my own numbers in and transcribe them in to my knitting journal.
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My knitting journal is a simple moleskine with a grid inside, and in it I put any changes to patterns that I make, charts I need, what row I am on, and all the information a busy knitter needs to know when they pick up a pattern again after putting it down three months ago.

Grab one at Amazon*

Now, I don’t transcribe the ENTIRE pattern into my book, just my adjustments. So I usually have a printed copy of the pattern washi taped into the book. The pages get a bit beaten up and usually get thrown out when the pattern is complete. but I keep all my important stuff in the book itself.

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Now all of this can be done on Ravelry, but I make changes on the go and I like the feel of paper and pencil so this works best for me.

But this isn’t all I do.
I also use my trusty Filofax* and the inserts from the Make Your Shining Year Planner, *(or for those of you not interested in product placement, my daily diary).
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Inside this fantastic little book is where my life gets sorted, and in it I log when I start a project. I use the sweetest little planner stickers from SymposiPress, an Etsy store that does sweet watercolour stickers for your planner.

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The stickers are so fully of whimsy and so gentle I can’t help but love them. They also come with a CAST ON sticker, then an image of the object and a blank space so you can track how far you are on your project. Then an adorable little FINISHED! sticker.

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I don’t know if it something for those of us who got stickers at school to signify a job well done but the level of satisfaction when placing a FINISHED sticker in my planner is close to the satisfaction of finding that perfect rainbow. (Which I am still hunting for.)

So how do you track your knitting progress? What about changes you make to the patterns?

Do you know a great planner sticker store? Let me know.

*these links are affiliate links.

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