Thursday, 25 September 2008

Fancy dress

My lovely boys have been invited to a friend's daughter's 4th birthday party. All very lovely, but the invite had those two little words that strike fear into so many mothers' (and the occasional fathers) hearts: "Fancy Dress".

I work full time. I have 2 children. I've just come back from my holiday. Needless to say, I have to make EXCELLENT outfits for the 2 of them. I think it's something about compensating for the working.

Child A's current obsession is with knights (in a suit of armour, dragon vanquishing sense, rather than in a throw back to feudal heritage), so his was an obvious choice. Skinny polo neck from a charity shop, grey tights with the feet cut off and some handy work with some tin foil and you're away (photos to follow).
But what for Child B? A-ha, a dragon. I had some fleece material left over from a summer project of making camping suits, so thought I would run up a dragon outfit, complete with spikes. In the interests of the sisterhood, I thought I should share, so here are instructions. (NB: I've never done instructions before, I know I'm not a great teacher and I got so carried away I kept forgetting to take photos. Sorry.)

These are the fleeces before I hacked them up. They were just cheapy blankets from Ikea. I'm not sure if it works out cheaper than buying the yardage from a fabric shop but, wierdly, Ikea is closer than the fabric shop, and (sorry Fabricland) they have better colours. These, if you can't tell, are a rather fetching lime green and Guantanamo orange.

Then you make your spikes. I cut the long edges off, put them together and sewed a line of zig zags just off centre. Then I did it again to the other off centre. As I was using yellow thread, you can barely see, but there they are. Then cut CAREFULLY between the lines and fold each one the right way round.

Look, spikes.

Now for some pattern cutting. I do this by finding clothes that fit the correct child, and cutting round them. Trousers (especially for a nappy wearing child) are dead easy. You just need 4 bits the same. Sew them together at the inside leg, then outside leg - not forgetting to put in the spikes.
Turn one the right way round and put inside the other (basically so they are still right side to right side) then sew round the groin.

Don't forget your tail.

I made a top too. That's for another time though!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Three times the excitement

So, today is exciting for onetwothree reasons.

First, I got pictures of my green leafy lacey blanket in situ. Not even a week old, and already sporting such stylish knitwear. Interestingly though, her mummy has put it ninety degrees clockwise to how I would have done. Still, I couldn't possibly comment, firstly because it's a gift, and once they're gone, they're gone, and secondly because it wouldn't do to comment on anyone's (quite obviously terrible) parenting...

Second: new Knitty with the most fantastic Op Art Blanket and some lovely lace patterns. Clearly I have something for knitting leaves, as the
leafy socks are pretty cool too.

Third: I'm now on my hols (dances little jig). We're off to Croatia for some loverly sunny sunshine. I've packed so many books I don't have room for clothes and I'm taking lots of Noro yarn ends to make some Christmas hats with. No pictures yet as wouldn't want to spoil surprises. The boys will just have to entertain themselves with a stick and half a biscuit. See you when we're back.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


The baby blankets have been going on for a while - even before I found out that nearly everyone I know is pregnant, I had a couple on the go. When we had the last population explosion with all the second babies two years ago, I thought I would never manage to give away everything I'd knitted, but somehow it all went (actually, some of it stayed for my little boys). So, presciently, I started stockpiling again and inevitably, the friends started procreating again.

I like knitting baby blankets. They're not too much of a commitment, and you can never have too many. They're a good way to work out about new techniques without having to cope with a pattern too. For a while I was really into cable. Now it's lace and raised styles. I think it's fun to take elements of different patterns and combine them together in different ways. Fun obviously depending on personal preference. They make lovely gifts too, and that's the most important thing. A home made and unique present is the best way to welcome a home made (or maybe hotel / car / beach made - who am I to judge) and unique little person into the world. They'll get enough mass produced consumerism over the course of their lifetime.

This one was my first foray into lace. It's the pinky blanky from Knittingjuju. Her's is made with huge wool on huge needles. I just used Rowan Soft Baby (again) in yellow on little needles, and followed the chart. Just about. I went wrong in a couple of places, but mostly I'm very pleased with it - especially as a lace virgin. I imagine there'll be more lace to come.

These are the little geometric leaves in close up, although they seem slightly more 3D in real life. I was completely captivated as I knitted this at the process of creating leaves and watching the pattern unfurl.

Definitely not a social knitting project however.

This was a social knitting project though (or one for drink knitting - particularly suitable for red wine, being dark and acrylic). I started these to contribute to the Oxfam Maternal Mortality Campaign but then realised I had missed the deadline, so just sent them a donation instead. It was such a great idea for a campaign - a knitted petition to highlight deaths in childbirth.

In an attempt to reduce my yarn footprint, I used up ball ends and did half mitred squares. OMG - maths and knitting. Genius! I just love how you start with a straight line and it ends up going round a corner.

This is a close up of my favourite square. The photo doesn't really do the colours justice - they're all rich, jewel like colours that have that lovely sparkle you only get in squeaky shiny acrylics. I don't even know what the original projects were that resulted in such funny remnants. Still, they made a sweet little blanket.
I did a couple of rounds of crochet (Thanks for teaching me Amy!) around the edges to make it a bit bigger and to bring the colours together.
This last one is really a terrible photo, which is a shame because it's a lovely blanket. It's loosely based on the Stitch n Bitch big bad baby blanky, so moss stitch round the edge then 4 big stocking stitch squares. It's knit in lovely soft woolly wool which I got in Penrith last year whilst visiting my great aunt and uncles. I was going to knit Child B a jumper, but by the time I came to it, I suspected he might be too big for the balls available so turned it into a blanket.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

And so it begins

My good friend Estelle just had her baby (a little girl) so I got to send off the first of probably ten baby blankets I'll be knitting over the next few months. My friends appear to be undergoing something of a baby boom, and whilst it's making me hugely broody, I'm having to subsume any thoughts of having my own baby into making blankets for everyone else.

It was based on the Lace Leaf Wrap by Janine Le Cras. One day I'll know how to hide those links. I can do it in Word. Why isn't it the same? I knitted it in Rowan Soft Baby, which is, for some reason, discontinued. I've been trawling the web for yarn shops that have remaining stock as it's so lovely to knit with.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever made! Three different charts, all with repeats at different intervals, and in way smaller yarn than I usually use.

Definitely, definitely worth the grief though.