Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Deforestation Show


As promised here is my daughter's school project video on Deforestation. She made this last year when she was 11 years old. I guess I am being a bit loose with the term snapshots, but it is a series of snaps linked with voices and music. She did all the voices, in fact everything herself.  Just the loan of my camera. I hope you enjoy it. The edge of some of the screen has cut off, and I can't work out how to fix this, but I don't  think it really spoils the whole show. 

If you watch to the end, there is a rather cool dance routine after the credits. When folk grumble about children spending all their time on computers, I think this shows that computer time can be very creative.

P.S. She did not know that Bob Dylan was a real person. Oh young people.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Wee of the Never Never

I can finally show you a project that I have been itching to talk about for almost a year. My first published collection of patterns in a magazine. Last Spring I was commissioned by Homespun, Australia's number one craft magazine, to design some tiny knitted Aussie animals made to be worn as pendants. They would be published to coincide with Australia Day. And finally here they are: Kangaroo, Koala, Kookaburra and Wombat.

I am so pleased with how they have been presented. The title Wee of the Never Never confused me at first, until they explained that it refers to a book called We of The Never Never by Jeannie Gunn, and would be instantly understood by Australian readers. Homespun is packed full of articles and patterns, not just knitting but quilting, crochet and sewing. Printed on lush thick paper, and containing a removal section of pattern pieces, it is the sort of magazine that I would keep and refer to for many years. Available downunder Homespun does annual subscriptions and mails internationally.

Thank you to some of my more experienced Handmade Monday friends who gave me some valuable advice before I went ahead with this project. The staff at Homespun were really a dream to deal with. Completely friendly, fair, straightforward and efficient. (Not naming anyone in particular, but I have found the exact opposite with some UK magazines.) What I did discover is that I work much better with a deadline to aim towards. Although the patterns are only available in Homespun at present, in time the copyright will revert to me, and I will make them available online.

So there I am, looking at myself from my own coffee table. I do realise most of my friends will not recognise me. This photo took a trip to the hairdressers, make-up!!!, and then selection from about a hundred shots, before I finally felt happy with sending it and the personal profile off to the magazine.

I am linking to Planet Penny Happy Friday, and although I'm not sure that I am completely in the rules,  the arrival of my pattern did make me smile.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Autumn Leaves Hats and Hat-Selfie

Since my Polar Bear post, where I have said that the only thing that keeps me awake at night is thinking about my next pattern, I have hardly given that bear a thought, daytime or night. Almost the next day my mum, who is 94, had a fall in her flat and fractured her leg. She is now in a residential care home. It has been quite a difficult time, as my mum does not live close to either me or my sister, but the reassuring thing now is she is at least at the end of a phone so we can talk to her daily and get down to see her as often as possible.

Before this all happened my mum had said she would like a new knitted hat, so while I was waiting for her to be discharged from hospital, this is what I made. The hat was delivered on Boxing Day, and although she won't be going out for a while, she did seem to like it and I am hoping she will be up and about again wearing it before too long. She was also making good use of her birthday shawl.

The pattern I used was Autumn Leaves Slouchy Gotland Hat by Sue Blacker.  I did not use the suggested wool or needle size, so there was quite a bit of guess work. I do like ravelry pattern search - I just typed in doubleknit, worked flat, free and hat, and they come up with a choice of patterns. 

I think the hat on the pattern looks nicer than mine, but I know that my mum wanted a close fitting hat so was pleased with the result. I used the recommended number of stitches, and one of the good things about this pattern is the leaves on the crown of the hat have a 8 stitch repeat, so you can make it bigger or smaller very easily. The wool I used was James C. Brett - Marble. I really like this wool as it comes in such great colours, and I buy in a small hardware shop in Teddington. There among the brushes and buckets is a small rack of wool. My mum has a small head so for the size I just looked at one of my own hats, and cast on so it was a good few inches smaller. (I have a large head!) In these pictures I was just trying it on my daughter for size thinking she would be about the same size as my mum. (I probably have enough wool left from the one ball I used to make another hat.) You can't really see the leaf pattern on the top, and I forgot take my camera to photograph it on Granny, but it did fit. 

The photo above was taken after our Christmas lunch. I really like it as it sort of sums up what we all do after Christmas lunch: I guess half of us play with our new toys, and the other half have a bit of a snooze. You can at least see what a lovely colour the wool is.

Update on The Hat: So here is the second version of Autumn Leaves, made with the rest of the wool. Here I added in an extra two leaf repeats, and knitted the rib section deeper. I also added a few plain rows between the rib and the leaf section, which you can see in the photo below. I am really pleased with how it has turned out, and it will be my standing in the playground hat for the next few months. It is very hard to take a photo of yourself in a hat. Is that called a hat-selfie? The second photo was my best one after many attempts.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Mini Cooper

I can now show a few of my Christmas gift knits, which I have been keeping secret. This was made for my sister-in-law, who has her own life-size mini cooper, and made from my own Mini Cooper pattern.

I must be very unobservant, as I began knitting and then thought, what is the roof colour, does it have stripes, ..... As she doesn't live near me street view on Google Maps came to the rescue. No sign of the car outside her house, but then another search of the car park at the school where she works, and I found her car. Feeling as if I could now get a job with MI5, I could now proceed with my knitting.

I have slightly got the shape of the sun roof wrong, as it should be wider. But I was really pleased that the pattern still looks distinctly like a mini, even without the white stripes on the bonnet, or Union Jack roof. 

While I was knitting this car, I found one tiny typo in the pattern, and a section in the technical bit at the beginning which isn't necessary. So I have published an amended version, which should have gone automatically to anyone who bought the pattern on ravelry. I can't do this on Etsy or Craftsy, but if anyone is reading this and you bought it there, just message me and I can send you the updated version. 

I have plans for some more knitted vehicles in 2015.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas - Iorek Byrnison

Iorek Byrnison: Can is not the same as must.
Lyra Silvertongue: But if you must and you can, then there's no excuse. 

Wishing a Happy Christmas to everyone who has visited my blog over the last year. Thank you for all your comments. I hope you are all enjoying being with family and friends, eating and drinking a bit too much, and having a thoroughly good time.

I am working on a new idea, inspired partly by looking a polar bears for my little model bear. Also because I am a big Philip Pullman fan, and love his character Iorek Byrnison. (Pullman beats Rowling hands down. Ooh - I bet that is a bit controversial and a few of you don't agree.) I should really have put him in a suit of armour. At the moment I am just playing around with a few ideas.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fair Isle Gloves

This is one of my Christmas knits, which I probably shouldn't be showing yet, but I am pretty sure that the recipient isn't a regular viewer of my blog. If she is then hopefully she won't guess and they will still be a nice surprise.

They are knitted from a free pattern on ravelry by Cailyn Meyer called Wintergreen Gloves. Some of her other patterns look lovely, so it may be time for my second ever pair of socks.

I knitted on double points, and rather just grabbed some wool from my stash that I thought would look nice together. After the first glove I realised that I might not have enough of the purple colour for the second one, so that knitting was a bit stressful. But in the end it worked out that I did have enough, but only just. I love fair isle knitting, as the end result is so pretty, but there were a lot of end to run in. The good thing was that they are knitted in the round so no sewing up.

The pattern was really easy to follow, with instructions and charts. Although I did think I might have to enlarge the chart on a photocopier. That isn't a criticism though, just a reflection on my eyesight. The pink wool I used was a bit thicker and fluffier than the others, which I think is why those lines have puckered a bit. I knew I shouldn't be using it, but I thought the colour was great so just went with it.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sylvanians Do Billie Jean Dance Routine


My daughter has got in the habit of making little videos, using my camera and iMovie. I thought I would put a few on over the holiday, partly because I wanted to see if I could upload a movie. Camera work, choreography, etc. were all done by her. This one does end rather suddenly. 

Some of the others are very funny: for instance the film trying to persuade us that she really needs more pocket money. This one is more of a straight dance routine.

Linking to Saturday Snapshot, which I hope is OK as I realise this isn't a snapshot as such, but a series of snapshots linked together with music. Enjoy