In Space, No One Can Hear You Craft

Ridiculously warm, double-layered, Arsenal-striped alpaca scarf

Ah, failure to update both this and ravelry. Thus begins this years resolution to update both more regularly, and so to start, this:

Dad's birthday present 2012

is a new scarf I knit for my dad with an improvised pattern.

My younger brother recently moved to Chicago –FOR SCIENCE– taking with him my dad’s Arsenal scarf. The the one he got for free from the stadium, the one made of the finest acrylics, one he wears to matches and can wave over his head at appropriate moments. This sad loss forced him to buy one of the hideous cheapo ones on sale on the stalls on the way to a game, one for cheap he was forced to wear another scarf underneath to keep warm, and that? That obviously forced me to make him one.

(Helpfully, this was about a month before his birthday, also solving the problem of trying to figure out what to give him for that. And he specifically said that he wanted one, a warm one, when I mentioned maybe knitting one for him.)

The scarf had to be red and white striped (because those are the team colours), warm because it can be pretty freezing up there in the stands), with no obvious right side and wrong side (because it annoys me when scarves have that) or ugly switching of colours (ditto) and also, not be too dull to knit.

The last bit ruled out a stocking stitch tube-style scarf, which would have been the quickest, not wanting to see the purl-colour bump ruled out moss and seed stitch, so I ended up with this, the stupidly warm herring-bone stitch alpaca double-layered scarf.

Things to note:

I used 5.0mm circs, at the upper end of the suggested size for this yarn, and I had to make a point of knitting very loosely. Herringbone makes for a dense fabric without a lot of stretch, and for a scarf, you don’t want it too stiff. I had to undo the first set of stripes because they were just too dense a knit, especially compared to the rest. And I tend to knit loosely anyway!

When I said this was ridiculously warm, I wasn’t kidding. It wraps up really nicely and stays in place pretty well.

The other thing to note is that righthand decreases (k2tog) and lefthand decreases (ssk, k2togtbl) are not exactly symmetrical. This means that the seam on the finished piece will drift slightly. The seam on this is not invisible, though you can fitz with it a little to make it less obvious. SSK is more balanced with k2tog, but slightly slower to knit than k2togtbl, so pick your poison there.

This scarf is knit as a tube, which will have a bit of a twist to it. In practice, this doesn’t make much difference (the scarf still folds flat), but the seam doesn’t stay neatly to one side. It travels across the flattened tube.

Stitch notes

Herringbone stitch in the round:

Row 1: Knit 2 tog, but only drop the first stitch off the left-hand needle, leaving one stitch on the left-hand needle (plus the new stitch on the right-hand needle.

Row 2 As above, but knit 2 tog through the back loop (k2togtbl). You can also ssk, but it’ll be slightly slower.

When you come to the end of the round, you will have to shuffle the stitches a little– remove marker, slip the last stitch held over from a k2tog onto the LH needle to join the first stitch of the next round, K2togTBL, replace marker between the stitches.

If that doesn’t make sense, there are more detailed, nicely photographed instructions over on purlbee.com, which would have been handy for me to find before starting the scarf.

Instructions

This barely constitutes a pattern, not least because I pretty much worked it out on the go. It’s really more of a general guideline that will give you a scarf of appropriate size.

5mm circs, 1 skein each Berroco Ultra Alpaca (roughly 2 x 200m worsted weight yarn).

Cast on 80 stitches on 5.0 mm circs, in Colour1. Join in a loop, being careful not to twist.
Herringbone stitch in colour1 for the next 14 rows.
Change colour. Herringbone stitch in colour2 for the next 14 rows.

Repeat until you’ve almost finished the yarn, or it’s an appropriate length. I like my scarves to be at least as tall as I am.

To finish, you can either cast-off and sew the tube sides together or (slightly neater) you can graft the two sides of the tube together or do a three needle bind off to join the sides, whichever you prefer.

At the bottom, Cast-On end, either sew the sides together or undo the cast on and graft (or three-needle bind-off) the two sides together. Since I had to unpick the starting stripe, I ended up picking up the stitches, reknitting an extra stripe at the base and finishing it with a three-needle bind off.

I also added a fringe, because it’s a football scarf.

Dad's birthday present 2012

In case anyone is curious, I gave it to him before the next match he had tickets for, where we got the winning goal in the 95th minute. I’m not saying that was the good luck caused by my scarf. I’m just saying.

Homemade Laundry Powder

I have been experimenting with making my own laundry powder as the ecoballs I use for my normal wash are great but can only be used up to a certain temperature and I like to wash sheets and towels on a hot wash, which means using commercial laundry detergent. I am not fond of using that though as they’re often overpoweringly scented (plus additional chemicals, eek!) so I did some googling and after reading a bunch of recipes, the following is the recipe for laundry powder that I’ve used.

Ingredients:
1 bar of Laundry soap (I got Sunlight soap from the lovely Utility in Brighton but any laundry soap bar should work – some people use Ivory soap)
225g of Borax (I got mine at Unpackaged, which is where I get most of my cleaning stuff from – I’m a big bicarb/vinegar fan!)
225g of Washing Soda (I actually got this at Sainsbury’s but Unpackaged has it too!)

(Optional: a couple drops essential oil is often suggested but I didn’t add any as the Sunlight has a lemon scent already)

Cheap grater (to avoid any cheese/soap mishaps!)
Large jar (I used a 1.1l one from Ikea)

Grate the laundry soap – I used the medium side and watched a film while doing it – and then mix the grated soap, the borax and the washing soda together well in a bowl and then decant into the jar.

Et voila! Laundry powder. I’ve tried it out on a load of sheets/duvets and a load of face cloths. They came out clean and with a faint lemon scent (from the Sunlight soap – it has already faded from the towels) and not crunchy – although I did also put a glug of white vinegar in the machine as a fabric softener – so I am pretty pleased with it. I use about 1 tbsp per wash but nothing was particular filthy, so I’d probably use maybe a tbsp more in that case.

Yes, I am knitting my own yogurt, why do you ask? ;)

FO: Tarnished Karise

Tarnished Karise

I’ve had two skeins of Oxford Kitchen Yarn Sock yarn in Tarnished Gold sitting in my stash for ages. I’d just not found the pattern for them until Fourth Edition released her Karise pattern and suddenly, I knew where one skein would be going!

Tarnished Karise

My Karise (Rav Link) used just over one skein of my yarn – I had to break into the second skein to do the bind off – and I knit four repeats of chart A and three repeats of chart B. Aside from the occasional moment of user error – I was constantly dropping unwanted YOs from beside SSKs that didn’t need them! – it was a fabulous pattern to knit. It’s modular so you can knit as many repeats of Chart A & B as you want/have yarn for. I very much anticipate knitting it again, I definitely want to try it in lace weight!

And the yarn! Well, the colour was gorgeous. It made me smile every time I took it out to knit further and it feels so nice, which is crucial when I have it wrapped around my neck! I am very pleased to see that Katie has opened her shop again and I very much recommend purchasing yarn from her!

All in all, it was lovely to knit something designed by someone I know in yarn dyed by someone I also know. It’s one of the things I really love about being crafty and having friends who are also crafty, sort of a circle of crafty life.

FO: Crochet Baby Blanket

Granny Square Blanket

About a year ago I learnt to crochet and turned into a lean, mean granny square making machine but then they lurked, quietly in a bag with possible plans to turn them into a lap blanket that never quite happened. Then, a coworker at my old job announced she was pregnant.

I pulled them and the extra yarn out and set about joining the squares up until I could start crocheting around them. And then I just did that, round and round and around at every given moment until I ran out of yarn. And then I wove in all the ends, something that took me so long that I didn’t get a chance to take a blocked photo before I gave it over to my coworker before she went off on maternity.

The yarn is Rowan Handknit Cotton and it took about 9 and half skeins using a 4.5mm hook. The joining method was Carina’s Craftblog: Granny square joining tutorial.

A nice cup of tea and a sit down

IMAG0019

I’m at an awkward stage of crafting with too many things that can’t be photographed until they’re done or less piecemeal but I have spent a couple happy hours over the last weekend making the above cross-stitch. (It’s from Crosstitcher 239). I am not yet sure what I shall do with it – maybe make it into a teabag holder or frame it. But it does make me smile!

You’ll have to excuse the briefness of this post but I original wrote it through the flickr interface and then promptly lost it. And lunch hour waits for no crafter.

FO: Coraline plus xstitch

Coraline

My Coraline [Rav link] is done! Hooray! I took advantage of my current copious amounts of free time and the recent sunshine to sit down and knit a lot. The end result being that after some disgruntled cable needle wrangling (I hate cable needles and normally do cabling without one but the smocking required it) I started the smocking yoke and finished it in fairly short order. Then, I blocked it and let it dry (took forever!) and then after a couple attempts at the sewn button loops, I gave up and did self-yarn crochet chain loops using a 2mm hook. About 7 chains for each loop and then reinforced with the sewn in ends.

And, when I haven’t been knitting like a crafty lizard in the sun, I’ve been cross-stitching. Which is probably my original gateway craft. I have picked it up and put it down multiple times over the years but very much am back in the mood for it. I’ve got a plan for some geeky charts brewing but while I work on those ideas, I’ve done some small pieces.

Lovebirds Bits and Bobs

The Lovebirds is a mirror case that came as the free gift with Cross-Stitcher Issue 237 with a few tiny modifications and the other thing is a felt envelope that I made for my Hivemind so she has somewhere to store loose bits and bobs (heh) while she’s stitching – I may have helped get her hooked at the Stitch and Craft show, mwhahahaha! – and uses the chart that came with issue 239 of Cross-stitcher for the label.

Not yet photographed, because I haven’t assembled it yet, is the pincushion from Issue 238. Heh. Must get on with assembling it as it would be trĂ©s useful while I am stitching (oddly…)

Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

Dalek cake

T’bf is a massive Doctor Who nerd, so while he was tromping around the Doctor Who exhibition in London, I was busily constructing a surprise birthday cake Dalek. Dalek Cake (exterminate! exterminate!) is made out of swiss rolls, icing and minstrels, with toothpicks, tinfoil and glace cherries standing in for plunger etc. and comes from a 1960s episode of Blue Peter.

I had less than an hour to construct him, so everything was shop bought and he had a tendency to fall over (quite hard to get the bottom even) so I am propping him up for the photo. But should you want to make your own Dalek Cake, you can watch the Blue Peter clip online.

T’bf may have squealed, which, you know, job done! :D

Other baking done this weekend, although sans photo, was my first attempt at a cake made with gluten free flour to take along to a housewarming. I’m using Dove Farm’s gluten free flour and their victoria sponge recipe from the back of the package. It didn’t rise as much as I’d expected it to but it was still substantial, very light crumb and didn’t have the gritty texture you sometimes get with gluten free flour and everyone who ate some enjoyed it. Hooray! Recipe behind the jump…

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Cake of nomminess

Caaaake

Look at that cake. It is a cake that netted me several emails from my coworkers going ‘That looks amazing!’ (and they got several emails back in return going ‘Well, eat it!’ but I had to be the person who made the first slice after lunch in order to lure the hordes.) and then several emails that just went ‘NOM NOM NOM!’.

It is also a cake that is great if you’re avoiding wheat for whatever reason, as it uses almonds. I currently have to avoid wheat and my hivemind is Coeliac, so I am always on the look out for delicious but wheat free baking things and this delivered in spades.

It’s called ‘guilt free chocolate cake’ and is by Annie Bell, from her Gorgeous Cake book — which I borrowed off a coworker and has several wheat-free cakes for me to try, hooray! — and I thoroughly recommend it! Recipe behind the jump.

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Finished items and catching up

I had planned to do some more sewing this weekend – a coin purse to go with my bag – but instead, I ended up doing some object finishing in regards to knitting, which brings me down to one piece on the go and that’s my Coraline.

Which is a good place to start, actually.

Coraline in progress

It’s actually even further along since that photo this morning – the sleeve is now halfway done and I’m finishing the last few rows on the back at the moment. Which will just leave me with the sleeves to do and then it’s the yoke and then I’m laughing (and wearing a v. nice cardi.) Hooray!

The finished objects are:

My Cotton Reel Mittens:

Cotton reel mittens [Rav link to original pattern]

Which are also my first colourwork project. I’m quite pleased with them; my tension stayed fairly even through out, I really like the construction but I do think that next time, I’d probably drop a needle size after the start of the thumb gusset as they’re a bit bigger than I like my fingerless mittens to be.

And a stealth ‘must knit that now!’ project, also Ysolda (I’m knitting from patterns I have at the moment!), the Lee hat.

Lee Hat

Mine was done in Rico Essential Merino Aran, in blue (Jeans) and Natural. The construction of this hat is fantastic (although fiddly at times) but generally worth it! I’ll almost certainly knit it again in other colours.

The sewing will happen, although probably not for a couple of weekends now, as my next two weekends will be spent somewhere other than my flat/sewing machine. But I do plan to do some prep work for them when I’m home.

Buttercup bag (or: Look, Ma! I gone sewed something!)

Buttercup bag

Wheeee! One finished Buttercup bag from Made by Rae. It took me awhile – I cut the fabric out ages ago and then failed to do anything with it/succumbed to the Sewing machine Fear – but I decided that I needed to sew it up, so I’ve been working on it slowly over the last week or so, especially when it came to the pleats, and then because I was up early today, I sat down and wrangled the last bits of sewing together etc.

The outer fabric is Tumble Roses in Tangerine (although they’re pink!) from Amy Butler’s Love range and the inner fabric is Gemstone in Sage from Dena Design’s Leanika range, both of which were fat quarters from same bundle I bought from the Fabric Loft as the one I used for the Frankenkindle.

Buttercup bag: lining

I only made one major mistake and even that was fixable – in future, I shall remember to check which side I am putting the magnetic snap before I flatten the legs. But a little bit of wrangling with my pliers reversed that foolish mistake.

Yay!