Monday, January 26, 2015

A Whole Lotta Knitting

Wow, it's been awhile since I have posted... but the reason shall become clear as you scroll, scroll and scroll through even more photos of my recent knitting projects.

First up, Christmas gifts. As I couldn't share these before the holidays, here are four projects that were completed for family members last month:

For daughter a "Binary" scarf. Since she is a recent Computer Science grad at the UofM,  I thought she'd get a kick out of the design that is reminiscent of the old black and neon green computer monitor screens. The 1s and 0s represent all data on a computer, called "binary language".  I started this in July by first using an online translator to create the 132 sets of 8 “bits” to make a byte of data spelling out a secret message she will have to decipher. Good thing I started this project early - I had completed it to the last three rows by September before I realized I had made a mistake twenty sets back. So I ripped those out and re-knit 120 rows... Arrrgghh!

Next I wanted to make hubby a toque to keep his head warm this winter as he does a lot of outdoor duties at work and when it hits -40C, he needs a thick hat! So I knitted up not one, but two for him. One plain...

and another with cables!

For the gals in our family, I made up a few washcloths, wrapped up with fancy soaps:

After the holidays I also made daughter a scarf from super-bulky yarn I got her last Spring. This was the first time I had tried slip stitches to create a neat effect.

Then it was time to do a few projects for myself, using up some of my yarn stash. The last of my bulky yarn made a "Fisherman's Wife Cowl". I just need to find some wooden buttons to finish it off.

I also made this lap blanket, but it has been hijacked by hubby (and all three cats).

I used up this yarn on two leg warmers... they'll be great to wear over jeans when the temps dip. I started with an online pattern that had a simple single cable design, but I love cables, so I added more and offset them all around each leg.

I also volunteered to do a "test knit" for a designer out of Boston. Basically when people write a pattern, a few knitters try it out and make note of any corrections / changes necessary before it is published. Love this super soft cowl!

Since I didn't keep any washcloths for myself from the pile I did for Christmas, I tried out some new cotton yarn, held double to make this extra-squishy facecloth for us.

And last but not least, a project I made last weekend (took just two days to complete)... a tea cozy!

When I started knitting last February, hubby would constantly ask if I was making a tea cozy... I think he just liked saying "cozy". ;)

When a group on Ravelry announced a "Tea Cozy Knit A-Long" in January, I knew I had to participate; knitters submit their projects for a random prize draw a few months from now. There are hundreds of free patterns online, but I decided to make my own. I did use the basic numbers from a plain cozy, but adjusted them to fit my smaller teapot. Then as I knitted it up, I designed my own colourwork pattern. I call it my "Cozy Nordic Tea Sweater":

It slips over the pot perfectly and buttons inside the handle hold it on tight. I am really pleased on how it turned out - even  though there were way too many ends I had to weave in! I have received a lot of sweet comments about it and have been asked to write out my design for other Ravelers to make it too. Don't know if I will, but it was high praise indeed.

So that's why I haven't posted for weeks!

Now if you'll excuse me, I still have a cardigan, a pair of socks and a pair of mitts on my needles requiring my attention...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Needlework Of A Different Sort

If you are a knitter or have friends or family who knit, you probably know what "project bags" are. If not... well I'll explain. More often than not, knitters find themselves casting on more than one "project" at a time. Socks on one set of needles, perhaps a cardigan on a second and even a another cowl on yet a third set... (um, yes, I admit in fact that describes ME at this very moment).

So unless they want inquisitive feline paws or other potential hazards to befall their hard work they keep each project in it's own separate location - with instructions, wool, needles and all other necessary tools and embellishments together.

Hence the proliferation of the "Project Bag". There are many such beautiful cases on Etsy; with awesome fabrics and in a variety of shapes and sizes specific to the project (larger ones for sweater quantities of supplies, smaller ones for socks, for instance).

But me being me, I wanted to try to make my own. And since discovering the modern episodes of Dr Who on Netflix (oh David Tennant!  Ahem - pardon the tangent there),  I decided a Dr Who project bag would be awesome.

I found the fabric with the perfect pattern on a site that's new to me called Spoonflower. It's brilliant - you can choose from thousands of designs created by members and also make your own!  So I ordered two "fat quarters" for half price in canvas for the outer bag and designed my own silky interior fabric you'll see later on.

I also found Dr Who printed ribbon and charms from Etsy to decorate my finished bag. At home, I discovered two pieces of material I had on hand that I could use too. So early yesterday, I finally got started.

I used this pattern from the Pink Penguin blog as I had seen many a knitter make this style. I changed it up a bit and also added three pockets to the interior. One of the fabrics I found in my own stash was a plether-like black material - I must have purchased it for a Halloween project years ago. I had just enough left to sew the base and upper edge of my bag. I feared my old circa-1980 sewing machine wouldn't be able to handle the thick fabric, but I am thrilled to say it worked flawlessly!

I made the outer canvas shell first, after heat-fusing an interface to sturdy it up a tad.

After making the lining from a silky fabric (also strengthened with interfacing and with pockets sewn on), I created the handles from the ribbon.

Here is the fabric I designed. It's a very famous line from Mr Tennant's tenure as The Doctor:

"People assume that Time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff."

I used Fireworks to skew the fonts and picked out the colours from the other spacy fabric so they would match. I am so pleased the way it turned out!

I finished the bag this morning after hand-sewing the final interior seam so there are no raw edges.

I really am amazed - I LOVE it! Here is the inner drawstring section that can be pulled up or tucked inside. It keeps everything in tact with no zippers to catch yarn.

A view of the inner pockets made of the same material as the outside.

And a close up of the charms... if you're a fan of the series, you'll recognize some of the references.

And what's even more fantastic, I only used half of the material! Yep, I can make another - which I will probably try in a different shape and size.

Allons-y! *

*The Tenth Doctor's catch phrase "Let's go!"

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