Saturday, 10 August 2013

Super Super Knitted Man

Hi There
As you can probably tell I love making gifts for people. Especially toys for children. I like to look for new toys to make all the time which means that I am constantly looking for books and magazines with toys in them. I get a kick out of making something cute or amusing.
A long time ago my Grandma used to make toys too. I had a clown that she had sewn and my favourite knitted pink and white Bagpuss. I also remember a scarecrow which was very detailed with a tiny snail on his shoe. This pattern I have discovered is by Jean Greenhowe. Jean has published lots of pattern booklets with toys galore for children and adults. I bought one of her booklets a long time ago now from a fair. They aren't modern looking toys like the animals and the jester I made recently, but there is something about them. They are so simple and remind me of something my Grandma would have made.
I have 2 booklets now (the collector in me can't help it!) I have Little Gift Dolls and Fabulous Fun Knits. I have made 2 of these dolls with a lot of time passing in the meantime. I have made both using the Little Gift Dolls. The first I made was a Bride in 2012 as a gift for my flowergirl at my wedding. I made it using sparkly white wool and as my wedding was blue she had blue knitted flowers. The best part of this doll and a little change to the pattern was that I change colours to a bright pink halfway up her legs to make bright pink knickers. Just a touch of personality, but I have been told since by my flowergirl's parents that the doll was turned upside down to check if there were knickers!
I recently re-discovered this booklet when I was looking for a gift for my cousin's son in America. I have previously made him a bear when he was born which was a success, he is now just about 8 months old, so I decided to make him something different. The size of these dolls are really good for small hands and they are very solid so there aren't any small pieces that can be swallowed.
I made him Superman. But not Superman with an S but with a D for his first name. I used a gorgeous bright cobalt blue for his body and arms, which is an unusual wool as it has what can only be described as little bobbles twisted into the wool and do an unusual texture. You have to knit very loosely with it, (which is hard for me as I am a tight knitter and regularly bend my needles).
I changed the pattern again slightly giving him a large D motif on his chest and on his cape outlined in gold thread. It was such a quick and simple make but I was happy with the character of the doll when I had finished and think it looks really fun.
I sent it to America with my parents who have gone to my cousins wedding which is actually today. So I send my congratulations to them and hoped he liked his Superman.
The other booklet I bought recently is Fabulous Fun Knits and has a mermaid in it that I am dying to make. It also a knitters paradise island ornament with yarn that grows on trees. This will have to be made and is something I think all knitters would appreciate! I am still on the lookout for Jean's scarecrow my Grandma made and will keep hunting to follow in her footsteps.
Lots of love
Bomo Knitting

Saturday, 6 July 2013

April Fool

Hi there!

Wow it has been a very long time since I last had a post. I'd like to say I've been very busy but i can't think where the time has gone! I have moved house recently and I absolutely love our new place. It feels very country and I'm back home which I haven't felt for over a year! The downside is the commute to work which is about an hour now so maybe as I'm so late hone each evening my knitting/blogging has suffered.

I have been busy however clacking away on my needles doing a purely selfish project. I don't really knit for myself very often but this time I really felt I just needed this pattern in my life. Each month I go to the shop and buy Simply Knitting magazine. It's my favourite knitting mag and I love all the patterns abd stories about other crafters. And as my readers may know I love making knitted toys and each month there is a pattern by Alan Dart. Oh gosh how I love the Alan Dart patterns! I can't describe it they are just amazing. The characters are brilliant and although at first glance the pattern looks complicated once you get down to it it is simple and they are like works of art as well as a cute toy.
There are lots of little bits to each pattern but they really add to the design and the beauty of it is in all the little details. Anyway, I have been collecting a stash of Alan Dart patterns just to purely keep and my aim is to make them all! And then I got the April issue of Simply Knitting and the pattern was for a Jester. I haven't ever attempted the Alan Dart patterns before but this one I fell in love with immediately! I had to make it for myself!

So I wandered down to the local craft shop in my new 'local' town and bought the colourful wools I needed. I changed the colours slightly as the pattern calls for green, yellow and purple but I used red instead of purple, one because I thought it would be a great Christmas decoration in the end and two because the shop had a really nice scarlet red that I had to purchase.

It began with his face and as I have said earlier it is relatively simple just time consuming. I even had to knit the neck and nose seperately. The most innovative part of it was his hands. I found it confusing at first as I would assume you would start at the thumb and knit each finger in order but you start with the third finger and it all twists together somehow into perfect little fingers. The boots also had me slightly concerned but once they are stitched up and the curl in place then they look great. The body is knitted in green and yellow changing wools half way through so that when he is stitched up you get what I can only describe as a battenburg effect with squares of green and yellow. The legs and arms are made one green one yellow and the accesories all in red so he is very colourful.

Each little intracacy really adds to it like the little arm cuffs and the seperate points on each hood. The finishing touch is the many golden bells attached to him. Which also make a great noise all together. I had to go on a bell hunt all the way to Hobbycraft in Stockport which to be honest is an absolute wonderland for crafters I could spend days in Hobbycraft so it wasn't a hardship.

It took 3 evenings to completely finish, stuff and attach bells but then finally my jester was finished and I am so proud of it. I absolutely loved making it and for now I am keeping him out and looking for a place to display him properly. He isn't actually even finished just yet he has one or two more bells that need to be sewn on to him (as I ran out!) and a tiny knitted hand puppet of his own to make, but I have just had to leave him for a while and knit a simpler thing like a tie for my dad for my Dad for Fathers Day as I was craving something simpler after that.

I hope you like my April Fool, And seriously if you like knitting toys and figures like me you should keep an eye out for Alan Dart. He is a knitting genius!!

Lots of love
Bomo Knitting

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Fancy a cuppa?

Hi There

When I started knitting, I wanted to make everything all at once. I wanted to be really good at knitting really quickly. But as all knitters know, good knitting takes a lot of patience and a lot of skill that can only be learnt over time. One of the things I attempted and failed as a beginner was a tea cosy. It sounds such a silly thing really, wanting to make tea cosies, I mean it is 2013 now and these things are usually associated with Grannies. But I have noticed from my constant buying of knitting books and ramblings on Twitter that tea cosies are back in fashion. Everyone wants to create that vintage look in their home, and most people now have a tea pot and use them in their home. So as a homage to the past and because after 18 months of knitting I should be able to, I tackled the tea cosy.

I have been trying to use up the odds and ends of my stash of wool as I have so many unopened and unused yarns that I hoarded and then forgot about. And I had this yarn that I had bought to try and knit socks (still a challenge!). It can only be described as Rainbow wool as it is a self patterning wool in red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue (I couldn't help myself!). So I started with this forgotten but beautiful yarn and started to make a tea cosy from a book I found in a clearance sale called 'Knit Two Together' by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark.

I have fallen in love with this book some what, as it has some really kitsch patterns as well as decorative patterns for the home and clothing and accessories and the patterns are explained really simply. As well as stories and anecdotes about their knitting.

The Tea cosy I chose is a 'Tu-Tu Tea cosy' as it has frills running across it. The frills in the pattern are meant to be made using mohair, so that they are thinner and lighter, but as I was recycling wool and not buying I decided to use some of the colours I had left. I chose some block colours reflecting some of the colours in the body of the cosy, so it looked really bright. The pattern itself was so simple I was surprised I hadn't succeeded last time and I really enjoyed making it. On its own it isn't as decorative as some of the intarsia tea cosies I have seen or the big chunky cable knitted ones. But the frills and the colours gave it the personality I was after. This pattern knits the cosy on 2 needles and doesn't stitch the back seam. You leave it open like an apron and make an i-cord to tie it together at the top. I made the Tu-Tu one from the book and loved it so much I kept it for myself which is rare for me to do as I always tend to give the things I make away as presents.

I altered the pattern as well to get different looks and had a month of making cosies. One I made for a friends birthday. Which was the same basic pattern but no frills instead I sewed lots of different buttons on it to give it a vintage style and it was made in a blue Twinkle wool which had sparkles in it. The second I made for my Mum for Mother's Day and I made it in a rich purple and decorated with pom poms (my favourite thing to make). It had a really fun look and looked really different. (I have no pictures if these two cosies I'm afraid, you will have to take my word for it that they looked nice!) The third was made in a chunkier blue wool left over from my jumper I made in earlier posts and I made some knitted flowers to decorate it and those are shown below, I found some tiny pastel buttons which I decorated the centre of the flowers with. This was for my Mother-in-Law's new country kitchen.

So I did it, I conquered the basic tea cosy. I have so many ideas now buzzing round my mind for different tea cosies as they are so quick and easy to make. I am really happy with all of the very different cosies I have made and will no doubt be making them in the future and am now firmly on team Tea! Tea will never go cold again!!

Lots of love

Monday, 1 April 2013

Cosy Warm Easter Bunnies

Hi there!
It is Spring...if the weather would allow it to be and it has also just been Easter. I love Easter. It always reminds me if a trip I took with my family a few years ago to Belgium. We were going to see Battlefields and the graves if our ancestors but we also stayed in a beautiful vintage hotel in Ypres and it was Easter and Ypres were celebrating it big style. Belgium is an extremely under rated holiday destination. It has a lot of history, beautiful buildings and amazing food and truly the best chocolate. But also boy do they know how to do Easter!
Easter is everywhere and before it became big over here to put up little Easter Trees and decorate the home with chicks and rabbits, Belgium had mastered it. My Mum was the most inspired and emulates this every Easter, with decorations in every room and bowls of chocolate eggs to nibble on. Easter is always special to me, I bought my own Easter tree a couple of years ago and have tiny paper eggs to place on it, the spring colours are so lovely and cheery. I really think Easter is an undervalued holiday and the decorations you can get can be really lovely and make a really big impact.
This year I was seeing my friends before Easter and I wanted to give them an Easter Present. I have been buying Knitting magazines a lot at the moment, 1) because you can get some very useful free gifts like cable needles and stitch holders (I live a free gift!) 2) because there are some lovely quick and easy patterns to keep from very talented knitters and designers. My favourite at the moment is Simply Knitting but I also like Mollie Makes and Knit Now.
In Simply Knitting they had an entire Easter Knitting segment full of tiny.Easter eggs for Easter trees and egg cosies a plenty. I found a pattern for bunny egg cosies knitted in the round. As some of my previous readers may know one of my New Years Resolutions was to master Knitting in the round and these small bunny egg cosies were perfect for me to try and complete!
I started with a multicoloured baby wool in Spring Pastels and learnt to cast on through a YouTube video. (Got to love YouTube!). The pattern asked for 28 stitches but as my needles were slightly smaller than the pattern asked for I cast on 30, 10 on each needle. Then remembering the words of my knitting teacher 'Don't twist your stitches! The first round is hard enough without twisting the stitches!' I began to knit in the round properly for the first time.
The first 2 row were hard, they are in Moss stitch (1K: K1, P1 2P: P1, K1) but after that I was on a roll and knitting in the round isn't too bad. In a way it is easier than knitting on 2 needles as you just knit the rows and get stocking stitch without alternating Knit and Purl, and there are no ends to knit together no seams, just a knitted round tube. The bunnies have 6 rows of Moss stitch and then 7-28 rows is knitted. Then you cast off using Kitchener stitch and make i-cords 5 stitches wide for ears. Tie some of the wool over the ears to cross them over and darn on a little twitchy bunny face. I also had some stick on ribbon bows so put these on too for a bow tie.
I made 6 for my friends and used lots of ends of wool I had in my bag to make different bunnies. Each one was unique and had a charm of its own.
I was really happy with the effect and put chocolate eggs in each one and presented them in an egg box which raised some laughs as I did give the bunnies to them during cocktail hour! I am really pleased with the egg cosies and feel like I have done my little bit back to celebrate Easter the Belgium way as well as completing one of my resolutions!
Happy Easter everyone!!
Lots of love

Monday, 4 March 2013

My First Jumper

Hi There

I have had a secret all consuming secret for the last few months. I have been making my first jumper.

I have made toys, rugs, mittens and scarves...however for some reason the elusive knitted jumper was a real mystery and scary challenge. I challenged myself just after my Christmas projects were over and I had nothing else to do to get through the Christmas days at my parents and my parents-in-law and I wanted to take a project with me that was easy to pick up and add to and one that I could still watch the Downton Abbey Christmas special without losing a stitch. I was challenged to make a jumper with the promise that even if it was rubbish it would still be an achievement to have made a garment at all.

 I picked a jumper out of a magazine, 'Let's Knit' gave me this with a pattern by Sian Brown called 'Moloko'. It is a jumper for beginners and promises to be a  an 'incredibly simple sweater to make'. It is only made using 2 types of stitches; stocking stitch for the body and sleeves with 2x2 rib round the collar, bottom and cuffs. It is technically an easy knit and was relaxing at times to just sit and stocking stitch a few rows.  But what I wasn't prepared for was the sheer volume of stitches and rows it would take.
I usually make very small pieces the odd teddy and little heart so to suddenly be asked to cast on 94 stitches seemed ludicrous and the rows at first took ages and ages to knit and move along. It is knitted on 5mm and 5.5mm needles and I used a really lovely blue Moorland Aran wool by King Cole, I had read in a magazine how tweed style fabrics and knits were back in style so I like the blue with the flecks of brown and dark brown through it. and it was a lovely wool to work with, but you do need a lot of it I bought 5 skeins of 100g, but I do still have some left.

The jumper started growing really quickly and by New Year I was onto the sleeves and had put the front and the back on stitch holders. The sleeves although smaller rows were much longer and it was tricky making sure they were equal lengths. I finished the sleeves mid January and then all of a sudden I lost my bottle. I couldn't get my head around how to connect them all together and I put it in a bag and forgot about the whole thing until February. In fact the January blues kicked in and all knitting got put away till February until I decided that I wasn't going to be beaten by a load of blue tweed yarn and I picked up my needles again and watched some videos on You Tube on how to connect a jumper. What the pattern asked me to do was to put each piece on one needle by picking up the sides of the front and back and then stitching 2 together on the first and end of each piece until you have all 4 pieces on one needle and can knit across all 4.
 I am probably not explaining it properly but it was possible and I was very proud to have all 118 stitches on my needle, although the needle did bend with the weight of it. Once I had ribbed the collar it was then just a matter of stitching it all together which was another evenings work but once done, I have to say, I am very proud of it.

It is not the most beautiful jumper I have ever seen or the most stylish or the most complicated, but it is wearable and it is cosy and I did make it myself and I can now say I have made my first jumper. One of the best tips I was told was also to press each piece under a damp tea towel so they don't roll up too much and then you have an easier time stitching them all together.

Since making my jumper I showed it to a much more advanced knitter, my Auntie,  gave me a handy tip, who told me that it is always better to make the arms first and then the body so that the gap is more suited to your body. The body is a little smaller on my jumper than the arms it has to be said, but then cropped jumpers are all over Topshop this season. :)

Lots of Love
Bomo Knitting 

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Travelling Ted

Hi there!

So far I haven't kept to my previous resolutions that I would update my blog more. But things have been so busy and I have been drowning under one project which has taken up all my spare time but more on that later. This is a happy project. The story of a Travelling Ted. 
A few months ago I continued my love of knitted toys, this one in particular was a very species teddy as it was for my cousin's new beautiful baby boy. My family is a very modern family and members of my family live all over the world. So when I heard that my cousin and his fiancĂ©e in America were having a baby,
I wanted to make something for him that he could keep and would be a little different. I thought a very English looking teddy bear would be perfect
I have made other Laura Long patterns for knitted animals in the past as the always look so cute and and child friendly.
I made one of the three bears from her book "Knitted Toy Tales"

I bought the wool from a new wool shop in Manchester called Purl City Yarns. I'm always looking for new shops everywhere I go and this one is a really lovely little shop with a great selection of wool and really helpful staff. they do all sorts of classes and I am hoping to join their sock making class but the places book up really quick! They also explained the true meaning of DK to me and explained that when making a toy DK would be the best. I always like to learn something new from other knitters. 
I chose a soft baby Italian wool in a pale brown caramel colour. Its a really lovely creamy brown colour and is easy to knit with.
The pattern itself was really easy and really rewarding as it can be knitted very quickly and I really enjoyed making it. I made it on my favourite 4mm needles and instead of using buttons I stitched the eyes on using a thin black yarn. I added little extras with a cute belly button and stitched some claws on all of the paws.
The thing I like about the bear is the face, you knit the nose separately and then attach it to the head which gives the bear a really attractive face and I think it is a better bear than some of the other patterns I have seen as it is has a more traditional quality. To finish the bear I made a red and white scarf to add to the 'English' bear idea. The scarf is made in garter stitch and is the smallest scarf I have ever made with tassled edges because ever since I made tassles for the Rug I made I do so enjoy adding them where I can.

The bear is a travelling bear as he was packed up into a shoebox and posted all the way to California. I tracked his progress as he travelled and put through customs. I have since heard that he got to his destination unscathed and is a loved addition to a home which I think is every knitters dream that what they make is appreciated especially by a child. I still have my handmade toys from my grandparents and other relatives, so I hope the Travelling Ted will be around to watch my cousin's beautiful boy grow up.

He was finished for a long time and was sat in my house and I do miss the teddy. I will definitely make more in the future and would recommend the pattern. The Ted made it to America before I did as I am still yet to visit the sunshine of California.

Lots of love
Bomo Knitting