The Susan Crawford-along: in which we decide that our knitting patterns prove Susan Crawford is an alien

Read our adventures with casting on here: casting on our vintage knits.

Ellen:

OK, so I finished the ribbing and got on to the larger needles. And then the colourwork. I’d say I’ve started the colourwork, but technically I’ve started the fucking colourwork THREE TIMES.

And then had to carefully frog said colourwork and start again.

Apparently I can’t maths, because getting the pattern to actually line the fuck up is some kind of Labour of Hercules.

This is what I get for knitting backwards, and thus having to read charts backwards and oh my god just put me out of my misery.

Nik: 

I’m slightly worried I’ve made the wrong size, so I might frog and start over. Not too traumatic, I’ve only done about 2cm of ribbing. I also stopped because I felt a bit chilly (it’s been averaging about 3 degrees) to make a chunky cowl.

Ooof, colourwork. Flat? I love colourwork in the round, but as we know, there’s nothing that English designers hate in particular than knitting in the round. Colour work and purling. Uggghhh.

Not so fond of this yarn, but it’s nice and solid.

Started cable pattern. If there;s anything SC loves it’s the dreaded AT THE SAME TIME instructions. Repeat pattern 6 more times, while inc stitch at every 16 row, while also balancing your entire stash on your head.

Ellen:

OH GOD NOW I’VE GOT TO SWITCH TO ANOTHER CHART.

This will involve additional maths and 3d modelling in my head to try and work out which end to start the chart so it looks like it’s supposed to look.

It’s flat, though that’s actually a good thing because if it was in the round I’d be using a lot of extra yarn just carrying it across the back.

The really fun bit (and by fun, I mean complete bloody nightmare) will be the reindeers. You’re right about how SC loves AT THE SAME TIME. For the reindeer part of the jumper, it’s Fair Isle AND Intarsia involving, from what I can tell, at least 5 different balls of yarn at once AND armhole shaping.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that SC is an alien with about 4 extra limbs that are used solely for knitting. Either that or her patterns are part of some kind of government training programme designed to identify people with elite multitasking skills to become secret agents. Possibly both.

Which I’m all for, if I get a red Stetson like Agent Carter.

Nik:

Think about how fabulous we’d be as secret agents though.

 

Never trust a panda

OK, I know, it’s been over a week. And I honestly sat down to write all about what I’m knitting, and what’s been going on in my life (the toran is coming along nicely, and mainly I’ve been cooking all the things because one of my flatmates is ill).

But then I thought ‘hey, I really ought to print out the pattern for Mopsy Bird“, and suddenly I’m being presented with patterns with names like “A beret that is different!”.

beret

 

Which of course led me down the Trove rabbit-hole. Trove, that home of so, so many 4ply jumper patterns. It takes me long enough to knit a pair of socks using 4ply. Knitting an entire jumper? Probably insane. Which is why some time soon I’m totally doing it. But then I found this.

panda

Oh, it’s a panda, yup, totally ordinary stuffed toy panda.

perambulator

Wait, what? Why perambulator?

WHY IS IT STANDING UP UNAIDED? Is it sentient? Are there instructions somewhere in the 8th December 1949 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald explaining how to use your bloodstone circle for animating knitted toys?

Great, now I’m scared that if I make this it’s going to start walking around my house in the middle of the night.

babadook

I’m just saying what we’re all thinking. 

 

 

If nobody needs me I’ll be locking all my black and white yarns in a trunk and then hiding under a blanket.

Mid-week joy: Pocket Potholders

I was pottering around the internet today looking for some inspiration for today’s post, when I stumbled across the Antique Pattern Library. Anyone who knows me will know I love vintage/retro stuff, so of course I had to investigate. Looking through the (free to download!) scans of patterns, I discovered ‘Pocket Potholders’, a gem from the 1950s.

Pocket Potholders

 

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The book actually starts off strong, in my opinion:

strawberry

But then my opinion is horribly horribly biased, because I love strawberries. Thus strawberry-related clothing, crafts or accessories is pretty much a no-brainer. pansy

The pansy looks simple, classic- a little bit froufrou, sure, but it would be fun and colourful when made up.

But then things get, well, weird in the way that only vintage pattern books can get weird.

Western Boot

What.

sombrero

Um.

And weirder. There’s Freddy Frog. Maybe it’s just me, but it kind of looks like Freddy Frog got run over.

frog

Pocket Potholders then gives us what is, in my opinion, the piece de resistance of peculiar. Behold, the Gingerbread Man!

gingerbread

 

Who would look adorable if he was smiling. But what it actually looks like is the Gingerbread Man was, well, surprised from behind.

What? My mind went there. Don’t judge me.

 

gingey 2 gingey 3

 

Stop that.

 

Links of joy: Awesome Christmas gift guide part 3: Sewing

Sewing gifts. Not only is it a great excuse to buy fabric way to use up stash, it’s reasonably fast, and you can make things that fit your giftee exactly.

For example, how about a set of pretty knickers? Or maybe more than one (they don’t use a lot of fabric). Or if your recipient’s tastes are a little less frou frou, how about following this underwear tutorial?

Bags are always a fun and fairly unisex option. The Perfect Pattern Parcel (which you guys know I love) is all bags right now. But I must confess to being rather in love with this Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy messenger bag. I mean hey, I’ve seen ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. Aliens that look like Kirk from ‘Gilmore Girls’ could turn up and beam me onto their spaceship at any moment- I want to make sure I know where my towel is.

You could also go smaller and make some reusable ziploc-type bagsO for someone who likes to bring their lunch from home.

For kids, how about a snuggly cape with an adorable hood? Actually I also totally want to size that pattern up and make an adult one. You know, for science.

Or if you happen to know a kid (or lets face it, an adult) who loves them some Disney princesses, why not make yourself the Hero of Christmas by making them a super floofy tulle skirt?

Finally, for the hipster/big reader/gadget junkie/Apple fangirl in your life, there’s this tutorial on making perfectly-sized digital cosies.

You could even use Disney Princess fabric for that too. Just saying.

You’re welcome.

Links of Joy: Awesome Christmas gift guide part 2: Knitting & crochet

Knitters of Gayle by Sue Hasker

“I don’t care if your fingers are tired, we’ve only got 48 knitting days left!”

OK, so when you read the title of this post you might be thinking ‘it’s already November!  I can’t possibly do any Christmas knitting in time’. I understand this feeling. Certainly, if you were planning on making, say, a set of Christmas jumpers for your Weasley-sized-family (and I’m assuming here that you don’t have a set of Mrs Weasley’s magical knitting needles that do all the work for you- if you do, let me know in the comments, we should talk.) you’re definitely too late to start once the festive decorations and gifts appear in the shops.

But I digress. You do, in fact, have time to knit some awesome Christmas gifts. Even if you’re a beginner. Don’t believe me? Read on!

Lets start with some super-simple, but super lovely gifts. You could make a set of this geeky dishcloth (which could also be used as a facecloth if you make it in soft cotton), or perhaps this simple classic one? Environmentally friendly, handmade- if you’re looking for something for someone who loves, say, stuff from Lush, this could be perfect (and would be a beautiful companion gift for one of their Christmas soaps or shower gels).

Then there are hats. Hats are a great gift. If you use your time well (knit in front of the TV,  on your lunch break, and on the bus- with the added advantage that you get a seat to yourself a lot longer when you’re armed with pointy sticks), you can knock one of these babies out in a couple of weeks maximum.

There are so many lovely choices, too! I’ve made the Snow Devil hat, and it turns out very fun and flattering. Or there’s Wild is the Wind– a pattern that you can make with any yarn (as with most of Lee Meredith’s patterns- check out the site while you’re there, her designs are fab), and which you can make into a beret, a beanie, or a big slouchy hat depending on the tastes of the person you make it for. It’s also got interesting construction- if you’re going to make something you might as well enjoy the process, no? For those with lots of different oddments of coloured yarn, and friends who will enjoy a crazy accessory, how about the Fish Hat- which can be dead or alive depending on how twisted you or your friends are.

I haven’t forgotten the guys, either (though in fact the fish hat could be a great option if you’re making something for a man who loves to fish…). Keep it simple with this regular guy beanie from Yarn Man knits, or add a splash of colour with Turn A Square by Jared Flood.

If you, like me, are in the Southern hemisphere you may not want to make winter accessories. So how about a pair of earrings, or perhaps a fun little evening bag?

For me, the great thing about knitting is how many quirky options there are. For example you could literally give someone your heart.  If you have a niece (or a grown up friend) who has Blythe dolls, what about making them some outfits? Then there’s the Tiny Owl Knits Fox Stole for your vintage-loving gals (no fur!).

But it’s when you find a site like The AntiCraft that things get really fun. How about a menstrual cup cozy shaped like a Kraken (which you could also use to store a phone, or Ipod, or coins)- just imagine the fun you’ll have answering the age old question ‘what are you making?’. Maybe you’d prefer to tell the enquirer you’re making a shrunken head coin purse, though. Well, your wish is granted!  If you know any tabletop gamers, they might appreciate their very own plushie Beholder (bonus points- you get to glue on a whole bunch of googly eyes! Who doesn’t love googly eyes?) A tea cosy for your favourite pirate is also sorted.

What do pirates knit with? Yarrrrrrn.

On which note, I should probably stop. So, you badass crafters, what are you making for the festive season this year? Are you making gifts, or keeping all your crafty skills to yourself this year? Let me know in the comments!

 

Links of Joy: Awesome Christmas Gift Guide- cross stitch

“Ellen.”

“Yes?”

“ELLEN.”

“What?”

“It’s not even HALLOWEEN yet!”

You’re very observant. But if you’re planning on making things to give people, you really need to get started pretty soon unless you’re MUCH faster than me. Me, I started stitching Christmas gifts last week, because I know what I’m like.

And by ‘I know what I’m like’ what I mean is I’m much lazier about these things than I should be until it’s probably too late to finish everything I planned. Last time I had a big project to finish (making a wedding quilt for two very dear friends of mine), I started 9 months beforehand and I STILL didn’t get it finished until a couple of weeks ahead of the wedding.

Anyway, just to give you some ideas, here are some cross-stitches you could consider making. Cross stitch! It’s not difficult, you can make a bunch of them from one piece of Aida cloth, and you still get to go shopping- for awesome frames.

Also I resisted the temptation to link you to a bunch of beard-themed cross-stitches even though they’ve been calling to me. If you saw the Best Beloved you’d understand.

But I digress.

First, here’s one for that friend you know would be sitting in the jail cell next to you saying “that was awesome! Lets do it again.”

And one for your family (if they’re anything like, well, most families)- I’m considering making this for my Best Beloved’s Dad.

For the friend who is a liability if left alone with a credit card and Book Depository. Which is most of the people I know.

For the pre-teen in your life. Or maybe that’s just me. Who couldn’t do with a reminder to channel someone fierce in their lives?

Or perhaps you’re the sort of person who likes to give Christmassy Christmas gifts (or know someone who loves to receive them)?

How about this rather awesome festive pattern. Or there’s this DEFINITELY Christmas-themed one if you’re making something for, well, any geek man I’ve ever met and most of the girls.

Finally, this isn’t a pattern but I very much like the sentiment. What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart.

You can, of course, get a bunch more ideas on my Cross Stitch Shenanigans Pinterest board, if you’re so inclined.

What are you planning to make for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. And I’d love to see what you make if you use one of the patterns here or on the Pinterest. Show off your mad crafting skills!

Friday Five: Five awesome beginner crochet patterns

My friend Anna has recently taken up crocheting- I’m always excited when someone starts getting into a new craft. She’s already a talented sewer, but in the end getting good at any craft is all down to practice. Now, the easiest and simplest thing to make as a beginner crocheter would be a cotton dishcloth, but if you’re anything like me, you yearn for the beautiful, the silly, the fun. So to celebrate making it through the week, I give you five super-gorgeous, super-fun crochet projects that a beginner could tackle.

Hint- crochet hooks and yarn? Not that hard to get hold of. And there are plenty of books and tutorials out there to show you the ropes. The only thing to be aware of is that American crochet instructions are different to UK ones, but once you know what they mean you’re flying. Another hint- the second pattern on the list includes a handy quick reference to explain the difference between them.

Go on, give it a try- what better time than right now to surprise yourself and make something great?

Best of all, four out of five of these patterns are available for FREE! <3

First up, we have the crochet bow ring from ChabeGS Crochet Design. A little bit pin-up, you could make them in every colour to match your outfits, or use up an entire ball of yarn and make them for everyone you know. They’re super cute and THE PATTERN IS LITERALLY THREE LINES LONG. Can we say instant gratification? Oh yes, I think we can!

The Easy Crochet Owl from the Bunny Mummy blog will teach you how to crochet in a circle, and change colours. Also, OWLS! Yes, I know, ‘we can put a bird on it’ but c’mon people. We all know what YOLO really stands for.  You Obviously Love Owls.

If cute birds of prey aren’t your thing, then how about a kawaii octopus? Because, well, OCTOPODES. Just imagine making a bunch of these in different crazy colours and putting them on your desk at work. Go on, imagine. You could even tell people they didn’t need to start giving you octopi because you already had a bunch of them. Or attach loops to a load of them and have an octopus themed Christmas tree? OK, I’m not doing a very good job of selling this. Just click on over to NyanPon and you’ll see why I had to include this on the list. Added benefit- this is an amigurumi pattern. Amigurumi is a particular technique used to crochet toys and other 3-d objects, and it’s a great thing to learn, especially if you want to make toys. Just Google amigurumi and be amazed at the possibilities.

“This is all very well,” I hear you say, “but what about actual items of clothing?” Well, how about the classic- a beanie? But this one has an awesome twist- I give you (or rather I’m Topsy Turvy gives you)…the bearded beanie! Yes, you could just follow the beanie part and make yourself a lovely hat. But seriously…you can add a crochet beard! I bet you’ve often thought to yourself, ‘gee, what I really need is something to keep the rest of my face warm, not just my ears. But I don’t want to wear a balaclava…’ Well here’s your answer! Also you could pretend to be a super secret spy in your cunning disguise…If nothing else, take a look at this pattern for the ADORABLE photos of the baby bearded beanie. I defy you not to go ‘awwwww’, at least to yourself.

Finally, the only paid pattern on the list. This will make you a master of double crochet. It’s a much bigger project to tackle than the others, but when you look at the results, you’ll see why I had to include it. The Babette Blanket from Interweave Press is, in a word, stunning. To me it looks like the background of a Klimt painting. If you have a look at finished projects (look at Ravelry.com– and if you haven’t signed up there already and like knitting/crochet or want to start, you need a (free) account, stat!) you’ll see the possibilities. The actual pieces that make the blanket are simple to make (I’m working on one at the moment) but there are endless options for colours, as you’ll see. I’m working on one of these at the moment myself, in rainbow colours (what else?). If you don’t want to tackle the full sized blanket, why not make just the middle sections, and create a baby blanket?

I hope one or more of these will tempt you, and that if you haven’t given crochet a go you’ll consider trying. Whatever happens, I hope you have a fabulous weekend! Happy Friday!