Monday, 29 August 2011

Making Monday - More Caterpillars?

Today's Making Monday is a little different. Its not about something I've made. Its about something I'm watching being made.

So I happen to look up at my window (I'm in my craftroom) and see a little something waving at me.

Look! Look at the cute ickle caterpillar! He's climbed up so very high...

That green leafy thing is where he's been living for the past few weeks. The green leafy is supposed to be giving me flower sprouts (a cross between kale and brussell sprouts) but has failed spectacularly, so I'm letting the caterpillars eat it. Hey, they gotta eat something right?

So after a little google, I found out that the caterpillar is trying to find somewhere safe to make his cocoon! And they like to climb up walls and make cocoons under window ledges and things. After all, when you've turned into a butterfly, the first thing you want to do is try out those wings right?

I then looked up, trying to see where this little guy is trying to get to. And someone has already beaten him to it:

(I've since seen another caterpillar up there too, must be a good spot!)

But what really fascinated me about this little caterpillar, wasn't that he was climbing so high, but how he was trying to climb up the glass.

He was weaving this little sticky thread across the glass, in a circular fashion, so that his tiny little legs had something to grab on to. He was BUILDING HIS OWN LADDER!!!!!

I mean, come on, thats pretty darn cool right?!

Hopefully you can see this little trail, I've highlighted around it, and its from a previous caterpillar's journey.

Looks like a very faint line, almost like a snail's slime trail, but less shiny.

I'm really hoping one of these caterpillars will make a cocoon by my window, so I can watch them become a butterfly... its too much to hope for though isn't it?

And that little guy I first posted? Unfortunately, he took a tumble :( And he fell all the way to ground. I hope he's ok.

xxx Elle xxx

Monday, 22 August 2011

Making Monday - Bunting!

Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post - we are all tough girls!

For this weeks Making Monday I would like to present a sewing project! YAY me! I love my Lorelai sewing machine :D After a rocky start, we are getting along quite well now :)

So whilst bimbling about at the wonderful place that is Jumble Jelly, I saw Debs making up these little kits:
Isn't that just the coolest thing?! Its a Very Hungry Caterpillar bunting kit! For £10.50 you too can be the proud owner of one of these kits (say that in one of those announcer voices - go on, you know you want to!).

 So here is what you get. Four different fabrics, a length of ribbon/bias stuff, matching cotton, a pin and a label that says "Handmade with Love". Awwww!

And off I went! I sewed the fabrics together into triangles! And then came the dilema... what order to put them in?!

I figured that was quite nice, start with yellow, then food, then dots, then caterpillar, middle yellow and mirror.

Here's another picture. I'm not quite sure why. Pictures!

And I sewed all the triangles to the ribbon, keeping an even spacing of 3 inches between each flag. And yes, I did measure it all!

Its a wibbly picture because I took it with the panoramic picture taker app. But you can see it all!

And there, laid out in a circle looking all happy! Its finished! It was so much fun! I don't want to give it away but it doesn't go with my black/white/grey house :P

More sewing is needed now!!!

xxx Elle xxx

Sunday, 21 August 2011

I am a tough girl!

As many of you may be aware by now... This article (which I hate to link to, its just providing more traffic for this person who is clearly bitter because she finds knitting too hard), has offended so many knitters/bakers/gardeners/lovers of Hello Kitty it seems un-real.

Unfortunately the person (I can't call her a woman, she clearly doesn't understand what it means to be a woman), really thinks that by crafting, baking, gardening and staying at home instead of working means that we have stepped back in time before female emancipation. And that is just not true.

Being a woman means we have choices. We can choose to go out to work, in whatever profession we want. We can choose to stay at home and have babies, or stay at home and not have babies. We can travel the world, climb mountains, go into space!

We can choose to craft, bake, garden, love Hello Kitty without someone trying (and failing!) to make us feel bad. Its OUR choice. Just because you don't want to do it, doesn't make it any less of a valid choice for the rest of us.

Now, this writer wants us to be bad-ass tough gals. Here's a few pictures of me being bad-ass.

Aged 12, I got my Black Belt 1st Dan in Shotokan Karate. I was a chronic cross stitcher at the time.

Aged 18, I did my first photoshoot with Peter Checksfield (google for more photos at your own risk, they will not be safe for work or little eyes!). Thats me in a bath full of rose petals, wearing a barbed wire crown. That crown was the heaviest thing I've ever had on my head.

Aged 25, I did the Cancer Research Race For Life whilst knitting. And wearing New Rock boots. Rhian is actually cut out of the picture as I didn't have her permission to pop her on here, but she is also knitting, and growing a baby inside her. Thats totally bad-ass in my books.

Aged 27, censored for your protection. Using my drop spindle, whilst naked, for another photoshoot with Peter Checksfield. Nothing can be more tough than taking your clothes off in front of some other guy and posing. And when you add in some spinning...

I don't need to dress up in a leather teddy, with thigh boots and a whip to be a tough, bad-ass girl (the writer says we should be more like Xena, Warrior Princess... sure... ok!). I'm already tough and bad-ass. I can knit, crochet, bake cookies, sew, garden, do Shotokan karate (well, before the fibromyalgia - oh, that makes me tough too, I'm a fibro fighter!)...

Well. I don't think I need to say much more about this now. And I didn't have to prove what a tough, bad-ass girl I am. I actually like being a girly-girl. I like wearing skirts and dresses, and having long hair. I like being told I'm pretty, and yes, I do preen in front of the mirror.

And its my choice to like all of that, thanks to all my sister suffragettes!

xxx Elle xxx

PS: Love yourselves, go look in the mirror now and say "I am a tough, bad-ass girl/woman and I love myself for it!"

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Sewing Saturday - The long and the short of it

First up, let me just say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment on my blog! Its very much appreciated :)

I'm not sure if I've blogged about Lorelai yet. She's my sewing machine :D Yes, I finally got one! She's a Brother X-5, and was on sale from Argos. I've been playing around, making a few bags, some Very Hungry Caterpillar bunting (blog post on that to come, I promise!)... Primarily I wanted a sewing machine so I could make my own clothes. Its so difficult to find little skirts and dresses in black (I still have my Gothic fancies, even if I don't wear all the velvet/lace/leather and make up anymore).

And I also want to learn to repair or re-purpose my clothes. I hate wasting things. Sure I'll happily take them to the charity shop if they don't fit or suit me anymore, but if theres something I could do to make them better... I'd rather do that.

Enter my very favourite skirt from Per Una:

Yes, thats a bit of an old picture of me now. It was taken when TechGeek and I did part of the Bath Skyline walk in April 2009.

So I've had this skirt a fair few years now. Its slightly too big on the waist, but thats fine because I like to wear it low on my hips (much more comfy for the fibro!). However, that meant the last part of the fabric rubbed against the floor, I tripped over it... and it was pretty much in tatters. I stopped wearing it.

Now I'm much more into shorter skirts and little dresses... and I had a dream that I could make this skirt into a short skirt.

And look! I did!

And for a close up:

Yes, I do feel a little clever right now. I never thought I'd wear this skirt again! And all it took was cutting a bit of the skirt off, and making a hem. Genius.

Now I just need to work out what to do with the rest of the skirt... Any ideas?

xxx Elle xxx

Friday, 19 August 2011

Freaky Friday - Extreme Knitting

I get to help out at Jumble Jelly (keeps me out of mischief you see :P) and today, I got to play with the Extreme Knitting Needles.

Those babies are 27.5mm! And so long I couldn't hold them properly. You can see one needle wedged between my legs (ooo-err!), it was very uncomfortable. I'm using 7 strands of yarn, and had 10 stitches on the needles.

Let's just say - I can see why this would appeal to people, I had a couple of inches done in 10 minutes. And it would burn through any stash very quick. But its not for me. Give me my 2.5mm DPNs and sock yarn any day!

Thats what makes me happy :D

xxx Elle xxx

PS: The needles and that knitting are currently on display in the Jumble Jelly window. Go check them out if you're in the area!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Making Monday: Batts

This week for Making Monday I've been playing with fibre. Lovely fluffy fibre! It's so fluffy I'm gonna die type fibre!

Not the greatest picture in the world, but hey, I couldn't be bothered to move to get a better one :P The stuff in the bag is alpaca, I can't remember what the bag says to say who its from... but its the stuff thats been CUT WITH SCISSORS!!!!! to make 50g bumps. *deep breath* I really struggled to spin the first 50g on my wheel... stupid cut ends! Anyway... the other stuff is Blue Faced Leciester , and the shiny green stuff is, well, shiny green stuff. I think its angelina. I got it from... a swap? I dunno. It appeared in my stash one day.

So, I'm currently borrowing KnitCave's drum carder. Now the drum carder and I became fantastic friends when we spent a whole day carding fleece for the Newbury Coat Re-enactment (see Miss Elle Knits episode 30), and so we've decided to spend a little more time together. Mostly to card the shetland fleece I bought from Wonderwool Wales, but also to play with some of the other fibres in my stash. On Saturday we carded the black merino that Rhian bought me for Christmas (or birthday? sometime last year!) with some silver shiny stuff thats also probably angelina. They are pretty batts!

Well today after carding another batt of the shetland (which is slow going coz all the fleece needs to be combed and fluffed out before I can do anything with it), I decided to combine the above alpaca, BFL and green... mostly coz I love spinning from batts, and also because as yet I haven't played with combining different fleeces.

Heres the lovely drum carder with some fluff already on it. I had 100g of BFL which I divided into 4, and 50g of alpaca which I divided into 4, and an unknown quantity of green which... I roughly divided into 4.

The idea was each one of those 4 would make a batt, so I would end up with 4 batts of roughly equal weight. Turns out thats too much to fit on the carder, so each 4 was again divided into 4, with 3 going into a batt, and 1 being left. Which equals 4 of each being left over. Two of each go into a batt, so I have 4 larger batts and 2 smaller batts. If that makes sense to anyone, I'm kinda tired right now :P

So you fluff out the fluff, coz it needs to be fluffed out and practically see through to go through the carder properly (I told you I was tired...) and then you turn the handle and everything goes round and round! Like magic!

And you can kinda, sorta see the smaller drum (licker drum?) brushing the fibre onto the bigger drum (carding drum? One day I will learn what everything is called...).

Once you've got enough on there, you use a giant poking device (doofer? Because you say "doofer!" when you pull it up?) to break apart the ginormous round fibre thing (seriously, my eyes are closing as I type this...).

And you start gently pulling it off the drum. Not too quickly or it will all get left behind in those giant teeth! Which are sharp by the way... Ask me how I know lol!

Here is a close up of the batt... you can only just see a small amount of green shiny sparkle. There wasn't as much as I was hoping to be honest...

And then TechGeek wanted to watch TV, and said the noise from the drums turning was annoying, so I've still got one more batt to make:

And now I'm looking forward to spinning these lovely BFL/alpaca/green batts! Maybe when I get my new spindle... which should be this week *squeeee*!!!

xxx Elle xxx

PS: I'm going to bed now! BYE!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

WIP Wednesday - Crochet Sock Scrap Blankie

I've been on a bit of a crochet kick lately. It just works up so quickly, especially for blankets. Look at this one, I finished it in a week:

Theres 200g of DK weight yarn there (Stylecraft Life), if I was knitting that it would've taken much longer!

And if you've been listening to the podcast (Miss Elle Knits - what do you mean you still haven't listened?!), you'll know that I've been crocheting little granny squares using my sock yarn scraps (of which there are quite a few...). The idea is for two squares of each colour, and then place them in blocks of four, two light colours and two dark colours.

Wanna see some squares?

Thats the current dark pile. With all the ends woven in, because of course I wasn't doing that as I went along...

Yeah, thats all the ends from the dark pile. Thats a lot of ends! (A side note - what do people do with their ends?! There must be something useful for them...)

And here is the light pile... ends not yet woven in (but they are now, I promise!)

Theres actually quite alot of yellow there... hmmm...

And heres the first few all crocheted together (big thanks to Attic24 for the joining instructions!)

And they are all slightly wibbly... so I'm edging each set of four with black double crochet (single crochet US).

Which makes them look a little less wibbly. But should make it easier for me to join each set of four too.

I wonder how many more squares I'm going to need to make though... I still have a really huge bag of sock scraps!

xxx Elle xxx

Monday, 8 August 2011

Making Monday - Galathea

Look at what else I've finished recently:
Its the Galathea Shawl/Scarf from Åsa Tricosa, using the Knitting Goddess merino/tencel laceweight. Its a completely stunning shawl, but I had problems.

As with all projects, I started with a gauge swatch.

No, that wasn't my problem! My problem had to do with the chart vs my brain.

My brain, whilst relishing in knitting patterns that look complicated, likes things to be simple. My brain, after all, is a fibro brain, and has a bt of short term memory loss. So I'll look at a chart and see one symbol means knit, but it won't register that is the right side symbol, and means something completely different on the wrong side.

After a few false starts (practice runs if you will) at trying to comprehend the chart (which I never managed to memorise), I got going. Can I just say how awesome the cast on is for this shawl? It is absolutely genius. And you kitchener to finish! I won't say much more, as I don't want to give away the fantastic construction... but wow, it is inspired!

Well, halfway through I realised that my shawl really wasn't looking the same as everyone elses on Ravelry. Turns out I'd just been following the chart which had you increase every right side row, but the written instructions say that after a certain length, you increase every other right side row. Ho hum. Fibro brain.

But I slogged along, I kept on knitting... I kept on knitting...

And then it came to blocking! Oh my days, how do you block a shawl like this?!

Not sure you can see, but I used blocking wires in the centre yarn overs, and pins on each little pointy bit. Took about a day to dry, it was very warm at the time!

And here is a close up of the pattern -

I will admit to putting a little moan about the chart problem (which we think may also have to do with me using charts mostly on socks - no right or wrong sides to worry about!) on my Ravelry project page, and the designer got in contact with me to apologise! Completely threw me, it wasn't her fault that my brain wasn't working! I'd managed to get through it and have a fabulous finished object, so it definitely wasn't the pattern that was broken. But I really appreciate Åsa taking the time to contact me, and I would like to encourage you to take a look at her designs on Ravelry, and maybe fav or even queue some of them :)

So there we have it, my second Making Monday. I might even start a WIP Wednesday blog post from now on. Its kind of fun having a schedule to blog to!

xxx Elle xxx

PS: Big thanks to The Yarn Yard for starting the Making Monday - I'm loving it!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Making Monday: B-Side Cardigan

As always with knitting, crochet, spinning... any craft really, you start out with a pile of supplies.

You (supposedly anyway), knit a gauge swatch. Its correct! You got gauge!

You cast on the project... and realise as you cast on for the smallest size (32" bust) is going to fit you when you are in fact a 34" bust. Gauge lies, we know this to be true.

You fall in love with what yarn you are using to knit with. You want more of this yarn... only to discover that its quite possibly being discontinued. Why?! Look at that stunning stitch definition! Its 100% merino! Superwash! And not very expensive either... Oh well...

Keep knitting... keep knitting...

The halfway mark... all the body is complete, and the sleeves are being knit two at the same time. Yes!

And then during blocking (before the button band, collar and sewing everything together)... it is discovered that the very last cable has not been crossed! NOOOOOOOOOO! How was that not noticed before? Can you live with it? Of course not, it is glaring at you constantly now...

Rip it back, no other option. Can't drop stitches due to the neck and shoulder decreases... But its done, and its perfect.

Stitches are picked up. Button holes are made. Collars are knit...

And then comes the seaming. You hate seaming with a passion - shoulders become bulky and lumpy, sleeves are the same... So you look for a tutorial, this time you will do it right!

You also discover that water can be put in your iron to create steam... so the seams can be set too!

Let us not forget buttons... those tiny things that pull the garment together... how on earth can you sew those on without them falling off constantly?! Yet another tutorial...

And finally... Viola!

A well fitting, well put together finished garment!

Unfortunately the sleeves are a little snug, but you can still wear a long-sleeved t-shirt on underneath... However if you gain a little meat on those arms... you may need to knit them slightly bigger!

xxx Elle xxx


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