Blankets old and new – plus surgery on an old (knitted) friend

I’m the crafty type who always has a stupid number of projects on the go, but there’s one work in progress that’s been around for so long that I usually forget to count it: my knitted squares blanket. I don’t remember exactly when I started making squares for this project, but it was probably in my mid-to-late teens. As the blanket still isn’t finished nearly twenty years later, you can probably guess that progress was a bit slow!

knitted patchwork blanket long term WIP

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The Knitting and Stitching Show – I came, I saw, I bought the lot.

I had quite a grumble about the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last year, but the lure of all that beautiful yarn was enough to overcome my reluctance to face the hoards of shoppers again this year. Having been half trampled and totally rushed due to going as part of a coach trip on the Saturday last time (what were we thinking?), this time me and Mum took the train up for the Thursday, and boy what a difference that made! Not only did we have a more comfortable journey, when we got there we could actually walk around freely in what ever direction we wanted without being restricted by the strange currents and tides of the crowd dragging us along! Continue reading

A knitted shawl, a crochet shawl and badger related excuses

Sometimes everyday life gets in the way of my blog, and sometimes it bundles me into a sack, throws me off a cliff and leaves me fending off wild badgers with nothing but a teaspoon and the evil glint in my eye. The last week has been nothing but badgers and teaspoons.

To be terminally cheerful about the whole thing, the upside is that I got a lot of knitting done whist waiting around the hospital, and Mr BAM is now safely home and infection free after some minor surgery. Also, I can safely say that I have definitely not missed my vocation as a nurse. We really don’t pay those poor people enough!

I impulsively began knitting another shawl almost as soon as I”d finished my Noro one, but opting for a much simpler pattern ( LaLa’s Simple Shawl – free pattern on Ravelry) so I could just pick it up and go whenever I had time to kill. After the slubby Noro yarn, the slinky sugar cane viscose of the Araucania Ruca yarn I dug out from my stash is amazingly soft, if splitty.

Knitted viscose shawl work in progress

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BAM’s Basic Bunting – new knitting pattern!

As promised, here’s my super easy pattern for knitted bunting!

BAM's basic bunting

You don’t need any fancy knitting skills to make this basic bunting! Each triangle is worked from the pointy tip upwards with steady increases every third row after row 5. Once you get the hang of the pattern it’s easy to make the triangles bigger if you want to, or you can cast off as soon as you reach the size you want. Continue reading

More WIPs than you can shake a hook at and a simple Tunisian crochet phone case

Someone posted a perfectly innocent question in a knitting and crochet Facebook group I am part of: how many WIP (work in progress) do you have? I was surprised by some of the answers people gave. I was expecting that most would have several projects on the go, but some said they had only one! ONE!

Wow. I could never have the discipline to work on one thing at a time, not starting something new until the previous item was done. So I started to count how many WIPs I had…. and had to stop at 15. I still had more projects to count but I was suddenly struck by how many of them I hadn’t seen for a while. Where were they?! Continue reading

Shopping and drooling at Fibre East

How is already a week since I went to Fibre East with my mum and lil sis Katie?

This annual two day event celebrates every aspect of British fibre and craft, literally from the sheep to the finished jumper! it’s not just about spinning and hand knitting wool, although both those crafts are strongly represented. It also covers crochet (yay!), felting, weaving, rug making, machine knitting, button making, and… I can’t actually think of any more, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed quite a few! Continue reading

Crafty geeks and geeky crafts at LFCC

Fan conventions are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and one that I usually have to explain when the subject comes up in conversation. Thanks to the popularity of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, some are aware of the concept of a comic-con but usually they don’t know that such events take place on this side of the pond too. Maybe I’m selling the Great British public short, but the handful of people who know what I’m talking about when I mention conventions picture the stereotypical bespectacled nerd, probably wearing a scarily accurate Star Trek uniform, arguing with an equally stereotypical bespectacled nerd about how commercial Doctor Who has gotten.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Okay, sometime they skip Star Trek and just go straight for the Doctor!

This is an accurate detail of a much, much bigger picture that includes so much more than just die-hard Trekkies and Whovians. Continue reading

What a week! Ravelry success, surprise knitters, loud over-excited sisters, and a quiet craft fair.

What a week! Ever since I posted my Granny Panel Tissue Box Cover my daily stats have shot up, and ten people have added my pattern to their queues on Ravelry! I’ve been plodding along, doing my own thing on this blog for nearly a year now, mostly just because I enjoy it, and not really expecting many people to read it, so my sudden little success is very exciting! Mr BAM can tell just from my expression when I’m checking my stats because the massive grin is a dead give away. I really hope someone does have a go at my pattern and posts pictures of it!

I made another one, this time in Soft Violet and Lava Lamp, for my neighbour Betty

I made another one, this time in Soft Violet and Lava Lamp, for my neighbour Betty

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My cool cotton crochet waistcoat

I love love LOVE Lily Sugar n Cream cotton. I’ve been squirrelling away the odd ball or two of this lovely worsted weight yarn in various colour-ways for months, only dipping into the stash every now and then for small projects like the wash cloths I made for my mum. But then Woolwarehouse started stocking 400g cones AND had a 20% sale on all Lily Sugar n Cream yarn, and I knew I had to think bigger!

So I went back to this pattern for a draped front waistcoat that I made back in March in cheap acrylic DK. It was supposed to be in worsted weight yarn anyway, and I was pretty sure I could make it out of just one 400g cone, so out came the 5.5 mm hook and….

Crochet mesh waistcoat

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A restyled skirt, a little bit of weaving and the original Bond….

As you might have noticed, I’ve settled into the routine of blogging once a week (doesn’t routine have a nicer ring to it than rut?), which means my posts tend to ramble around several topics, covering whatever craftiness I’ve been up to over the previous week. I always start with the intention of doing a separate post for each topic or project, but it never seems to happen! This week I have the usual hodgepodge of things to write about, but it suddenly struck me that actually there is a common theme uniting them after all! Everything I’m blogging about this week has a connection with the Community Wise charity shop in Eastbourne’s old town and/or the community centre it is attached to.

The Community Wise shop is a great place to find second hand clothes at incredibly cheap prices, and a couple of weeks ago I found a full length blue cotton skirt that reminded me of the kind of thing my mum wore as a primary school teacher in the 80s. I loved the fabric, but the skirt itself was a just a shapeless sack with a drawstring waist, but a could see the potential for a restyle.

So here it is!

Before and after!

Before and after!

Using a red skirt I already had (incidentally this one was also bought from Community Wise!) I made a template for a wide waistband out of brown paper.

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I also used the red skirt to gauge how much fabric to cut off the bottom  of the blue skirt, and from the excess fabric I cut four waistband pieces, two of which I backed with iron-on interfacing.

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I measured from the original hem up to were I was going to actually cut the fabric and marked it with water erasable pen every couple of inches, then all I had to do was cut along the dotted line!

I stitched the four pieces together: the two with interfacing to form the outside of the waistband, and the other two forming the inside. I left the bottom and one side of the waistband open.

Next I cut off the nasty elasticated waistband, being careful to leave as much of the skirt and its pockets intact. I cut a slit behind the left pocket to accommodate the zip, and gathered the top of the skirt in two parts, front and back. I used the sewing machine to do the gathers this time, but all the practice I got in last week with those zakka style pouches certainly helped when arranging the gathers! I found that you really can’t use too many pins when you are working with gathering!

Then it was just a case of enclosing the top of the skirt in the waistband, adding a zip and a button, and whizzing round the bottom with a quick hem!

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

I was very pleased with the results, especially as the only skirts I’ve made before this were of the shapeless sack with an elasticated waist variety! I will definitely be reusing the pattern piece for the waistband that I cut out of brown paper again to make more skirts like this.

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

And the first time I wore my restyled skirt?  When I went to my textiles group at Community Wise! Everyone seemed to be impressed, which was lovely and reassuring!

I took my peg loom to show the group, which (I promise!) I was already planning to do even before Simply Crochet printed that photo of me with a similar loom. I hadn’t done much with mine since I first got it, but it still had the piece I’d been working on attached, and I’d forgotten that it was quite good! I wove a little more before taking it off the loom and knotting off the warp threads, and now I just have to decide how to neaten the edges.

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By the way, I bought this loom at Fibre East last year, but you can find Fire and Fibre, the company that make them,  online at fireandfibre.co.uk

On the last Saturday of every month there is a farmers market at Community Wise, and Rita, the manager of the charity shop, always organises a stall with a theme stocked with items she has been putting aside from the donations she receives for the shop. This month she had a stall stocked with craft materials, which was heaven!

I’d already picked out this wonderful little stash…

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… when I heard the magic words: “who wants a knitting machine for £3?”

Telling myself not to get too excited, that it was probably only a child’s knitting loom, I nearly bowled poor Rita over in my enthusiasm, saying that yes, I would very much like to buy a knitting machine for £3. And lo and behold, IT WAS A PROPER KNITTING MACHINE! An original 1980s Bond knitting machine in mint condition in its original box NEVER EVEN BEEN USED!

Fortunately Rita was able to decipher my high pitched squealing and wild gesticulating, and popped a sold sticker on that bad boy for me. Even when I pointed out that the machine was worth a lot more than £3 she absolutely refused to accept a penny more, and I went home a VERY happy bunny!

My Bond! I don't have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

My Bond! I don’t have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with knitting machines, the Bond machine is a very basic model, that is often referred to in a somewhat disparaging tone as a hobbyists machine. There are no fancy-pants pattern punch cards, tension masts, row counters or automatic functions, it just cranks out row after row of stocking stitch unless you painstakingly manipulate each stitch one at a time by hand.

My younger sister (the hardcore hand knitter, weaver and spinner extraodinaire) bought a Bond second hand recently, and I was lime green with envy. I knew from watching her that when it is all running smoothly it is a miracle to behold, but that you need the manual dexterity of a brain surgeon to correct mistakes like dropped stitches. I just knew it would be perfect for making items to be felted though, and I wanted a machine of my own…

If I had written this post on Sunday I probably have said: be careful what you wish for. The Bond is not an easy machine to master, even with the invaluable help of YouTube. You need to learn its quirks, not only of the design of the model in general, but of your particular machine. I’ve found I need to exert more pressure on one side than the other, or else it will jam and/or drop stitches (I can’t even tell you how many attempts it took to discover this!). As tempting as it is just to keep going when you are on a roll, you can’t operate this machine if you are tired or distracted because it will chew up and spit out you and your knitting!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

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More swatches waiting to be felted.

Despite its very temperamental nature, I already adore this machine, and I completely understand why it has such a cult following online. I haven’t managed anything much more than a few swatches so far, but I have BIG plans for my machine! It can use any yarn from light dk to chunky, so I’m going to do some serious stash busting!

But the first thing I must do is make a thank you present for Rita!

Checking in to HandmadeMonday and Link it or lump it! Plus I’m giving Moogly and My Merry Messy Life’s Hookin On Hump Day a try this week too!

 

Moogly HOHD