Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Bunny

Every knitter has their favourite sorts of projects. I have gone through phases. As you can tell from this blog I have been very fond of knitting socks. Having filled several drawers and become rather predictable in my present giving I have moved on to knitting mittens, gloves, shawls, cowls and even the occasional hat and cardigan. But not bunnies. Until now.

Of course, this isn't entirely my fault. Partial responsibility has to be taken by my friend Rachel who blogged about them here and my colleague Juju who designed and posted the pattern here. The really cute thing about this bunny is that it has a secret pocket in its back in which you can hide a tiny Easter egg. Add a pin and it's a little brooch.I'm seeing my sister and her family tomorrow so knew that my niece Florrie would love one.
Whilst I'm really looking forward to seeing the family, this weekend is a little bittersweet as we are meeting to finally clear up my late father's house as it has now been sold. It was our childhood home so now our relationship with the Isle of Wight will be different but we are all keen to maintain our links.
With this in mind there was no other yarn to make the bunny with but natural alpaca from the Warrenfield Alpaca Farm in Wootton, Isle of Wight. I made his tail from a little bit of hand spun Romney shearling and his eye from a tiny mother of pearl button from the family button tin.


He may only be a little fellow but he carries a lot of love!.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Spring Greens

In common with many people in the UK at the moment both Spring and greens are in rather short supply round here at the moment. To inject a little bit of the colour of the season I have to turn to my knitting! I don't claim to be an advanced lace knitter but decided that this time I did want to stretch my skills a bit more so chose the Sunflower Shawl by Tin Can Knits. Up until now I have knitted triangular lace shawls but usually ones with a simple motif and an edging so this time wanted something a little more complex. I chose this shawl as the motifs have a theme and the transitions are smooth and clean.

Very much in need of a splash of fresh spring colour I decided to use one of my precious skeins of Crannog by the Yarn Yard. This yarn is a heavy, smooth lace weight which unfortunately has now been discontinued and this particular skein is a mixture of fresh greens, interesting enough to give movement but not too overwhelming to the lace.

As I knitted on the shawl I realised that far from being complex and difficult, the motifs flowed very easily and were in fact easily memorised so  the shawl was very quickly completed. I used a great deal less yarn than I thought so had enough yarn for an extra repeat of the large motif.

This photo gives the best overall impression of the colour of the shawl.

I would highly recommend both pattern and yarn (if you can get hold of it!) to even the most tentative of lace knitters. It has encouraged me to be bolder in the choice of my next lace project - any suggestions?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Yarn Puzzles

When I first discovered the wonderful world of knitting on the internet I had never heard of the idea of yarn clubs, where a yarn designer will send you a mystery parcel of yarn or fibre so that you have both the surprise and excitement of receiving a skein or braid in the post, but also the challenge of finding the perfect pattern or design for it, even if the colour took you well beyond your comfort zone.
Of course, it was very easy to rather overstretch both resources and time and I will be the first to admit that I probably joined a few more yarn clubs than my budget allowed and some of the skeins are very likely still sitting unknit in my stash. I have learnt my lesson and am now a lot more careful with my yarn budget.
However, I have always found it very difficult to resist the yarn clubs that my friend Natalie at the Yarn Yard has run over the years. If you look at some of the earliest entries on this blog you will find some of my very first efforts at simple designs, inspired by her first yarn club which combined variegated yarns with a toning solid. I used to really look forward to solving the puzzle of what to do to make the best of the combination of colours that she sent.    

At the beginning of the year I was a member of no yarn clubs at all. Whilst I felt very virtuous, I did miss the pleasant surprise of a new skein of yarn falling through my letter box every month but I had to be strong! Regular readers will have seen just how many pairs of socks I actually own, even though I give away many of them. A pair of sock's worth of yarn every month wasn't really what I really needed or could afford.

At the moment I am really enjoying designing and knitting mittens and wristwarmers which on average never take more than 50g of yarn. This is why when Natalie launched her Small Skein Society where she offers as little as a 50g skein of yarn per month I couldn't resist. Despite all my other commitments it takes me back to the excitement of when I first discovered yarn clubs and the revolutionary idea that I didn't have to stick to someone else's pattern. A monthly 50g skein is my chance to doodle and come up with a mitt or wristwarmer that really suits the yarn. Some features and motifs may appear in future designs but they are mainly an opportunity to play and experiment.

The first skein was a lovely smooth Blue Faced Leicester semi solid yarn in a range of deep pink tones. With Valentines day in mind I found an Austrian twisted stitch pattern called Forgotten Love which seemed appropriate.

Using cables and twisted ribs I was able to create a stretchy well fitting mitt.

Of course, life has been rather busy and whilst I am very excited to say that Installment Three of the Small Skein Society is about to drop through my letterbox I haven't quite finished working on Installment Two....

It's great fun though.

Thanks to my friend Mary for taking the photographs. As I specialise more and more in designing mittens and gloves I am coming to realise how difficult it is to take pictures of my own hands!