Monday, 16 July 2012

Marble Carpet

Hi There,

I have spent the last 6 weeks on a bit of a project. I decided to knit...a...carpet! It has been the longest project I have done and probably the biggest thing I have ever knitted but I have truly truly enjoyed it.

I found the pattern for the carpet in a file of patterns that were donated to me through a mutual friend. These patterns were collected by a very organised woman through a weekly magazine and she has built two massive files just full of knitting patterns and tips and techniques. The magazine was run last year and was a weekly print that gave away free wool, needles and DVDs and could be collected into files. I feel really lucky to have these huge files for free without doing any of the collecting or filing myself. Anyway within these files was a pattern for a number of rugs and carpets, as well as knitted place mats and cushions. The rug I chose was a Fringed Runner Rug knitted in Basket Stitch.

The brilliant thing about this rug is that it is really simple and repetitive so you can relax with it and get a good rhythm going. One of the techniques for this rug that I haven't used before was to use 2 balls of yarn at once, the file calls it double yarn, but I call it 'twining' as you are literally twining the two balls of yarn together to make a stronger more durable finished piece. The key however is to keep the balls of yarn and the threads separate as you can end up tangling the yarn together and I got myself into a few knots.

For the carpet I used Marble Chunky Wool in size 6 with size 6 needles. The wool comes in 200g balls. The pattern asks for 450g but I used 400g, and a bit extra for the fringing. I loved this wool, it was such an array of colours from bight pink to reds, browns and oranges. As I was 'twining' it anyway it was quite a good choice of colours as they all mixed together and almost self striped, so it made a lovely marbled effect 

The Basket Stitch knit is made by alternating 2 Purl stitches and 2 Knit stitches, and then using Knit rows and Purl rows in between. It's written like this:
1) Knit to end of row
2) K2, purl to the last 2 sts, K2
3) K4, *P2 K2 rep from * to last 2 sts and K2
4) K2, *P2 K2 rep from * to last 2 sts and K2
5/6) same as rows 1 and 2
7) K2, *P2 K2 rep from * to last 2 sts and K2
8) K4, *P2 K2 rep from * to last 2 sts and K2
You end up with a knitted border around the rug and an almost patchwork design with raised and smooth squares in a basket weave pattern.

Then you can add the fringe which I haven't done before (successfully.) So I used this video I found on You Tube You Tube is really good for finding little videos like this as other knitters pass on their knowledge. You can also get great ideas for new projects off here too.

For the fringe you wind the yarn around a length of cardboard, the length you need and then cut it into equal pieces, then using a crochet hook, you guide the wool through a section of the carpet (or knitted thing) and then simple knot and tie. You can then trim this to get the length you need but for this rug I left the fringe long. 

I'm really pleased with my final project in all it cost just under £15.00, which I suppose you could spend in Ikea on a similar carpet, but mine means a lot to me because it's in my new house and it's something I made that I can keep and that I'm proud of. I plan  to make more probably in different designs for different bedrooms, hall ways or bathrooms and using different stitches. The only drawback with items like this is the amount of time you have to spend on it. If you would like to 'commission' a rug of your own please let me know and I would be happy to make you a piece of knitted art for your home as well, if not just admire mine!!

Lots of Love,

BoMo Knitting

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Elephant in the Room

Hi there

There's something in the air at the moment. Its baby central. The past few months I have been knitting gifts ranging from tiny little newborn baby bootees to little jumpered bears. Both patterns I will reveal in time as they are very simple and fulfilling, but the last two weeks its been all about my knitted elephant.

A good friend of mine's sister is having a baby in two very short weeks and has a jungle themed nursery as like many parents they decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise. This does pose a challenge when choosing your yarn. One of the lovely things about knitting for babies is the beautifully soft wool you can buy in pale pastel colours. Lemon, lavender, baby blue and pink and aqua, as well as white of course are all perfect for baby presents. If you do know the sex of course you can go for the traditional pink or blue, or you can use unisex bright primary colours like reds, blues, greens and bright yellow for a retro Cath Kidston inspired look.As I didn't know the sex of this little one I went for the aqua and the lemon.

This design was a challenge it was one of the largest toys I've made and was made up of lots of little sections. The elephant was made up of stocking stitch which can be fiddly on finer yarn. To stocking stitch you knit one row and purl the next, moving the yarn to the front of the kneedles and back for the knitted row. I used 4.5 size needles simply because they're a needle I have neglected to use and are of longer length to fit all the stitches on as most of the rows were in their fifties.

I did change the pattern in the end I think it is always good to put your own stamp on something. The pattern is one designed by a very talented knitter called Laura Long. She's the writer of a number of knitting books called 'Knitted Toy Tales' which include wild animals as well as fairy tale characters. The elephant pattern is called 'Eddie the Elephant' and I found in a free booklet from a knitting magazine 'Knit Now'. The pattern at first looked difficult but once I found my rhythm and got used to the wool was relatively simple. I really do recommend Laura Long books and patterns, I hope to make an Owl and the Pussycat one day as well as the pea green boat!

As I said I did change the pattern, the pattern in the book asks for material to be sewn in for the ears and feet but I used a lemon shimmer wool. I also used basic black shirt buttons for eyes as I need to work on my embroidery skills. Also as I am yet to conquer crochet I knitted the tail in garter stitch instead of a chain which I think worked just as well. The trickiest bit came to the stuffing. You always need twice as much stuffing as you first think so whatever you think times it by 2 or even 4. For this I used an old clean pillow and tried to make the body as round as possible. Another tricky bit was stuffing and attaching the tusks. My first tusk was too large and they had to be symmetrical. I am a perfectionist so all the legs were symmetrical also. I finished off the whole elephant with a lemon silk ribbon from John Lewis.

I really enjoyed making  the elephant for the new baby, it took around 2 weeks in all. Spending my evenings making legs was very soothing. I really try to put as much love into my gifts as I can and hope one day to see my elephant one eyed, filthy and well loved by its tiny owner. After all toys are meant to be played with and loved.

Lot's of love, 
BoMo Knitting