Wednesday 30 December 2009

Snow Queen, socks and penguins!

It’s been a while – and there’s so much to catch up on.

Firstly, meet the Snow Queen.

Isn’t she wonderful? The pattern is by Alan Dart and it is featured in the January Edition of Simply Knitting magazine.

I skipped the funky fur edging and substituted a row of beads down the front of the jacket. For the crown I used a strand of double knitting yarn and a strand of lurex thread held together.

The pattern is easy to follow as detailed steps are given all along the way. The attention to detail in the character is lovely – she’s very majestic and eye-catching.

For Christmas I made socks for Grace and Eve. I used the same pattern as my first ever socks but this time I added buttons at the ankle for decoration.

The socks are very easy to make, relatively quick and lovely and warm to wear. They only use 1 ball of double knitting per pair – but I think I’ve done enough socks for the time being.

As little gifts at the dining table for everyone I crocheted these adorable penguins. I added gold thread loops to the top of each so that they can be hung on the Christmas tree.
The pattern can be found here. Unfortunately there are no English instructions – only charts in Japanese. The charts can be followed fairly easily – but I wouldn’t recommend them to beginners.

Well that’s enough to be going on with for now. There are still more finished projects to report – together with a work-in-progress update – but I’ll leave it at this for now.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Snowflake Earrings

PDF version
Something special for Christmas - snowflake earrings. They’re very quick to make and fun to wear.

I used Coats mercer crochet cotton #30 and a 1mm hook.
Here’s how I made them:

Yarn – a small amount of white crochet cotton
Hook – 1mm.
Notions – earring hooks.

Pattern (English terms used)

Finished size – 3cm in diameter

Base ring: using white make 6 ch, sl st to join into a ring.

1st round: 1 ch , [1 dc (US =sc) into ring, 3 ch] 12 times, sl st into 1st dc. (12 spaces)

2nd round: sl st into 3 ch arch, 1 ch, 1 dc into same 3 ch arch, [3 ch, 1 dc into next 3 ch arch] 11 times, 1 ch, 1 htr (US =hdc) into top of first dc.

3rd round: [6 ch, 1 dc into next 3 ch arch, 3 ch, 1 dc into next 3 ch arch] 5 times, 6 ch, 1 dc into next 3 ch arch, 1 ch, 1 htr into htr which ended previous round.

4th round: 5 tr (US =dc) into next 6 ch arch, 5ch, sl st into 4th ch from hook (to make picot), 1 ch, 5 tr into same arch, 1 dc into next 3ch arch] 5 times, 5 tr into next 6 ch arch, 5ch, sl st into 4th ch from hook, 1 ch, 5 tr into same arch, sl st into top of 1st tr. Fasten off.

Attach earring hooks to one of the picots.
All done, now you can make your own statement for Christmas.
… And if you don’t feel like wearing them as earrings, they make rather nice tree decorations!

Monday 21 December 2009

Happy Christmas

I feel like there's no time at all between now and Christmas - so blogging will have to take a back seat for a few days. I have so much I want to blog but no time to do it - once I get on the computer time seems to fly by and half the day has gone.

So I would like to wish every one


See in a few weeks time.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Precious - finished

In no time at all, my beaded cardi is finished.

I'm very pleased with the result. The pattern is Precious by Kim Hargreaves from Heartfelt. I used Patons misty 4ply mohair (less than 3 balls used) instead of the Rowan kidsilk haze - I couldn't face using that yarn again.

The Patons misty was much easier to knit with, it knits to the same tension as kidsilk haze - I'd definitely use this yarn again (I've actually got 7 balls of the yarn left, so I will be using it again sometime!)

I made two modifications to the pattern. The first was not to include beads around the front edging - I would have been in danger of out-sparkling the Christmas tree - also I ran out of beads anyway - it takes a lot more than you realise. The second modification was to crochet around the front edging rather than pick up and knit over 200 stitches - much quicker and easier to manage with the crochet.
This will look lovely on Christmas day - very feminine and dainty.

Having finished that I've started the Snow Queen by Alan Dart - hopefully I'll have this finished in a few days - although she's bigger than you think. There's cricket on television during the day - England v South Africa test series - and darts - World Championship - in the evening. Plenty of knitting time.

I realised the other day, that with all these exciting must-knit projects I've been working on, I haven't done any housework for a while. That's the great thing about Christmas, it's a wonderful excuse to change your routine. Anyway, I spent Thursday with the vacuum cleaner and cleaned one of the bathrooms this morning - that clears up some of the guilt, so I can get back to the knitting this afternoon.

I have finally worked out why I don't feel organised at the moment - apart from the hectic Christmas excuse - I've lost my table! In the living room we have an octagonal table with a lovely, cheerful red gingham table cloth on it. Eve occasionally uses it for homework, Grace and Chris never use it, but I sit at it all the time. It is my place - the place where I write my lists, plan my day, knit and sew, read my books. But now it's gone - in order to make way for the Christmas tree the table had to be moved out into the garage. I miss it so much - now I have to sit on the sofa like everyone else - it's not the same - list-making just isn't as effective there. Well that's my excuse at the moment anyway.

Thursday 17 December 2009


I had originally intended to crochet a number of snowflakes to stick on the walls. I found a pattern at MYpicot that had 7 different designs for Snowflake tree decorations.

Here's the one I made.
It's bigger than I thought it would be so more a doily than a tree decoration. I used Anchor crochet cotton #12. It took only a few hours to make but there are no written instructions just a chart. The chart was however very clear and matched exactly to the size of my work.

I will make more of these - but probably next year - the other designs are just as pretty. In a thicker yarn, maybe 4ply cotton, they would make lovely place mats for the Christmas table.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Harold the Snail and other business

Progress is being made, I am glad to say, on all my Christmas preparations. I'm nearly at the end of my list of secret makes - should be done by tomorrow. I still have other things I want to make but I don't have to wait until everyone is out of the house before I can get the needles and hooks out.

As a diversion (do I really need these?) I made a snail for one of Eve's friends. I'm not interested in re-inventing the wheel, so if there's a pattern already out there I'm happy to use it. I found an interesting pattern on Ravelry. Here is the snail, his name is Harold.

The pattern is Snails by Smeddley. It uses short row shaping to get the curves on the shell and body and is not too difficult to make. He's generously sized - approximately 3 inches long. He would probably benefit from a bit more colour - something bright and randomly-dyed would be an improvement.

As far as other projects are concerned, Precious is coming along nicely. It's very quick to knit and the Patons misty is so much better to work with than Rowan's kidsilk haze - and they knit to exactly the same tension.

Chris and I were away for a couple of days last week so I managed to get quite a lot of knitting done in the car. I should have this finished by the weekend.

After that I plan to start work on the snow queen. The Darts World Championship starts on Friday so plenty of evening knitting and watching over the next week.

Eve continues with her daily Advent surprise blog. Today's blog looks very tasty so I might post some pics to show you.

Monday 14 December 2009

The 39 Steps

We had a great afternoon out on Saturday at the theatre. We went to the Playhouse in Liverpool to see The 39 Steps.
Here's the blurb about it:

Direct from the West End comes Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps, brilliantly and hilariously recreated by Patrick Barlow as the smash hit Olivier Award Winning Best New Comedy.

This blissfully funny show follows the incredible adventures of our handsome hero Richard Hannay, complete with stiff-upper-lip, British gung-ho and pencil moustache, as he encounters dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents, and, of course, devastatingly beautiful women.

This wonderfully inventive and gripping comedy thriller features four fearless actors, playing 139 roles in 100 minutes of fast-paced fun and thrilling action.

It really was superbly funny - with a cast of only 4 it was amazing the way they managed to shift between characters. We'd definitely recommend seeing this play, if you get the chance.
After the play, I even managed to pop into John Lewis and buy the wool I need for the snow queen - so it was also a very productive day out!

Tuesday 8 December 2009


PDF version
Lauren is a close-fitting long-sleeved sweater in a textured fancy rib pattern. It is knitted in double knitting and is flattering and stylish.

To fit sizes small 32” (medium 36”, large 40”)
Knitted sizes
Bust 78 (88, 98) cm / 31 (35, 39) inches
Length to shoulder 53 (55, 57) cm / 21 (22, 22.5) inches
Sleeve seam 45 (47, 49) cm / 18 (18.5, 19) inches

10 (12, 14) balls of DK (I used James C. Brett Pure Merino double knitting in plum – 124 metres / 135 yards per ball)
3.75mm (US 5) straight needles

32 sts and 32 rows to 10cm (4 inches) measured over pattern using 3.75 mm needles. The fabric stretches horizontally. The tension is measured over the unstretched fabric.

k = knit
p = purl
sts = stitches
sl = slip
tog = together
tbl = through back of loop
psso = pass the slipped stitch over

Fancy Rib pattern
Row 1: *p2, k1, p2, k3, repeat from * to last 5 sts, p2, k1, p2.
Row 2: *k2, p1, k2, p3, repeat from * to last 5 sts, k2, p1, k2.
Row 3: *p2, k1, p2, sl1, k2tog, psso, repeat from * to last 5 sts p2, k1, p2.
Row 4: *k2, p1, k2, (p1tbl, k1, p1) all into next st, repeat from * to last 5 sts, k2, p1, k2.
These 4 rows form the pattern throughout.

Important note
The third row of the pattern decreases the number of stitches on the needles. This should be taken into account when increasing and decreasing at the ends of rows.


Using 3.75mm needles cast on 125 (141, 157) sts.
Work in fancy rib pattern for 20 (22, 24) rows.
Keeping pattern as set correct make the following decreases.
Decrease at each end of next row and 5 following 6th rows. 113 (129, 145) sts.

Work 5 rows without shaping.

Increase at each end of next row and 5 following 8th rows. 125 (141, 157) sts.

Continue straight until the work measures 34 (35, 36) cm.

Shape armholes
Cast off 5 sts at the beginning of next 2 rows. 115 (131, 147) sts
Dec 1 st at each end of next 6 (8, 8) rows
Dec 1 st at each end of following 5 (5, 6) alternate rows. 93 (105, 119) sts**
Continue straight until armhole measures 19 (20, 21) cm

Shape shoulders and back neck
Cast off 8 (9, 10) sts at the beginning of the next 6 rows.
Leave the remaining 45 (51, 59) sts on a stitch holder.

Work as given for back to **
Work straight for 6 rows.

Divide for neck
Pattern 36 (39, 42) sts, turn. Leave the remaining 57 (66, 77) stitches on a separate stitch holder.
Decrease at neck edge on next 6 rows. 30 (33, 36) sts
Decrease at neck edge on next 3 alternate rows. 27 (30, 33) sts
Decrease at neck edge on 3 following 4th rows. 24 (27, 30) sts
Pattern without shaping until the front measures the same as the back to the beginning of the shoulder shaping, ending with RS facing for next row.

Shape shoulders
Cast off 8 (9, 10) sts at beginning of next and following alternate row. Work 1 row. Cast off remaining 8 (9, 10) sts.
Rejoin yarn to remaining 57 (66, 77) sts. Pattern across, placing centre 21 (27, 35) sts on a separate stitch holder. Working on remaining 36 (39, 42) sts only complete to match left side of neckline, reversing shaping.

Using 3.75mm needles cast on 53 (61, 69) sts.
Work in fancy rib pattern for 12 rows.
Keeping pattern correct, increase at each end of next and 14 (16, 16) following 6th rows. 83 (93, 101) sts
Continue straight until sleeve measures 45 (47, 49) cm.

Shape armholes
Cast off 5 sts at beginning of next 2 rows. 73 (83, 91) sts
Decrease 1 st at each end of next 4 (6, 6) rows. 65 (71, 79) sts
Decrease 1 st at each end of next 4 (4, 6) alternate rows. 57 (63, 67) sts
Decrease 1 st at each end of 4 following 4th rows. 49 (55, 59) sts
Decrease 1 st at each end of next 4 alternate rows. 41 (47, 51) sts
Decrease 1 st at each end of next 4 rows. 33 (39, 43) sts
Cast off 3 sts at the beginning of next 4 rows. 21 (27, 31) sts
Cast off remaining 21 (27, 31) sts.

Join right shoulder seams.

With right side facing pick up and knit 31 (35, 39) sts down left side of front neck. Working the 21 (27, 35) sts on the holder at front of neck, k2 tog 5 (6, 9) times, k1 (3, 3), k2 tog 5 (6, 9) times.
Pick up and knit 31 (35, 39) sts from left side of front neck.
Working the 45 (51, 59) sts on holder from back of neck, k2 tog 11 (12, 14) times, k1 (3, 3), k2 tog 11 (12, 14) times. 96 (112, 130) sts.
Work 8 rows in k1 p1 rib.
Cast off in rib.

Join remaining shoulder seam.
Set sleeve into armhole.
Join side and sleeve seams.

Monday 7 December 2009

Christmas Jar cover

As part of my Christmas knitting, one of the things I thought I would do was to knit a cover for a glass jar so that I could put sweets and chocolates in it. We do actually have lots of jars and bowls that would do for this purpose but there's nothing like knitting something trivial to make you feel creative and festive.

I used the same Sirdar Click DK yarn as I used for my crocheted letters and knitted in the round. It's just plain stocking stitch until you get to the 'neck' of the jar. I then did a row of eyelet holes and followed this with some ribbing. I finished off with a picot edged cast off. Finally I threaded a ribbon through the eyelet holes.

It looks quite effective, so if I find myself with any time to waste between now and Christmas, I may knit some more!

Now that Lauren is finished, I have started knitting Kim Hargreaves' Precious - this is what I want to wear on Christmas day. I started it last night and this is what I managed to get done in a few hours.

I'm using silver beads but I'm worried they might be a bit too conspicuous - OK for Christmas day but what about wearing it at other times? I think I'll have to become a party animal to make the most of it!

Sunday 6 December 2009

Lauren Finished

Here it is - Lauren - my latest knitting design.
It is a close-fitting sweater in a textured fancy rib. I used James C. Brett pure merino double knitting wool which is lovely and soft, the end result is a snug sweater that isn't too bulky. The wool is also very reasonably priced.

The fancy rib pattern is derived from an old magazine that belonged to my Grandma, dating back to the 1940s. It is very stretchy and so well suited to the close fitting design.

It took me a few goes to get the sleeve sizing correct. Because the pattern is very stretchy in the horizontal direction it was difficult to gauge how many stitches to cast on and then, when and how many increases to make. Third time lucky I got it right. The sleeve head worked out beautifully - I used Pythagoras's' theorem to work out the sizing for this!

I will post the actual pattern in the next few days - I need to get the calculator out again to work out the instructions for the larger sizes.

Saturday 5 December 2009

New Alan Dart pattern

I've found a replacement for the Alan Dart Gingerbread House pattern I wanted. It's the snow queen and it features in this month's Simply Knitting Magazine.

It's made with a mixture of textured yarns and I can't wait to give it a go. The finished doll is about 16 inches tall so She'll make quite an impressive decoration for Christmas.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Christmas cards

Following on from the wonderful and inspiring blog from the other day, I spent an indulgent afternoon yesterday with paper, scissors, lace, buttons, stamps and lots of glue! Here's the mess I made over the floor.
And here is a card I made.

I'm so pleased with the result, although my photography doesn't do the card justice.
I used a Christmas tree card that folds out into a pyramid shape. I cut a piece of Christmas themed paper to cover the front, then added lace and ribbon. I found some old Christmas stamps in my collection and stuck these on thin coloured card that had been cut with a fancy edging. I added this to the card together with some buttons tied with embroidery thread. I think the finished result has a Victorian scrapbook feel to it.

Here are all 6 cards I made.

I really enjoyed making these and the idea could be adapted for birthday cards or other occasions. So thank you Cherry's Jubilee for the inspiration.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Little Santas and Interesting Blogs

Here are some little Santas I made as new decorations for this year.

They are crocheted and the pattern is Little Santa by SoL. They are quick to make but I didn't make a separate hat, as the pattern instructs, I just extended the head in the hat colour and then embroidered a round of chain stitch around the brim. They could be made into tree decorations, but I think these will sit on a shelf or window ledge somewhere.

When it comes to browsing on the Internet I'm not very adventurous - so for my Advent calendar Eve is giving me a new web address to explore each day. Today's address is Cherry's Jubilee. It's packed full of lovely cards. Here's a sample:
These letters cards are wonderful - another use for crochet letters?

Wow! What an inspiration! It makes my idea for this year's Christmas cards seem quite boring. Tomorrow I think I'll get the fancy papers, buttons, ribbons and lace out and have a go at something like these. I like the idea of incorporating Christmas stamps into the design (I must confess to being a stamp collector in my dim and distant past - so this will come in useful now).
I can't wait to see tomorrow's surprise blog, especially if it is as inspirational as today's.