Sunday, 18 February 2018

Coats, scarves - and spoons!!

Ta - dah!!! Here are Lucy and Zoe modelling their new dog coats and they look like they're a good fit too - thank goodness! I was a bit worried that they wouldn't fit very well at all. So hard to make something based on just 3 measurements and no possibility of a fitting. But they're fine.
It sounds like they might take a bit of getting used to though, as the girls were acting goofy" when they first had them on but that's to be expected really.

Tina's Allsorts, Well dressed dog coats

Tina's Allsorts, Well dressed dog coats

So after the success of the dog coats, I got back to work with my Tail of Two Dragons Scarf. The pattern is currently undergoing testing and one lady is even making one in 4 ply sock yarn - I think that might take her a while to finish....

Here's my third scarf - made in merino DK again, this time a solid denim blue requested by a friend for her Mum's birthday. I was very happy with how it turned out - the solid colour really shows off the texture pattern nicely and the merino yarn gives it a delicious squishiness!

Tina's Allsorts, Tail of Two Dragons Scarf

When I took this next pic I included an orange spoon. A simple plastic spoon that I remember very clearly from childhood picnics and it still looks brand new - it's even shiny! 50 years on and still going strong (the spoon, not me!). To be fair, it has been kept out of sunlight which would probably have faded the brilliant orange colour and perhaps made it brittle but it's still in use to this day. It will probably outlast me - makes you really think every time you take plastic wrapping off something and just throw it away...

Tina's Allsorts, Tail of Two Dragons Scarf

Tina's Allsorts, Tail of Two Dragons Scarf

Tina's Allsorts, Tail of Two Dragons Scarf

I was aiming for "coiled dragon" with this last pic but I think I might have been closer to "spiny frog"!!! And here's Fluffy, helping me out with his own version of pattern testing. I think he was testing the "squishiness" of the texture pattern!!

Tina's Allsorts, Tail of Two Dragons Scarf

While making my 3 different scarves, I've been using a variety of different length needles as each one grew. Starting with little 8" children's needles then moving onto these -

Tina's Allsorts, Aero knitting needles

I've had this set of knitting needles for over 25 years and bought them through an advert in my mother's Woman's Weekly. (I think we all read it at home and there was always something in it to make, be it clothing, toys or ornaments.) They're made by Aero, who I don't think are in business anymore and are really good quality. I've still got all the accessories that were in it although a couple are around the house somewhere. Things were made to last back then and I do like to look after things!!

After all my recent crochet and knitting, I decided to support someone else's crafting and treated myself to this absolutely GORGEOUS pin cushion. It's made by a lady called Angele and she designs all her pin cushions (and other things) herself. They're all hand cut from pure wool felt and then hand stitched. The amount of work she puts into each one is just incredible - they sell really fast too! Go and take  look at her Etsy shop - I warn you though, it's all very tempting!

I've had a couple of days off this past week and the weather was Glorious - I was so lucky!! I managed to get out to Hilliers for a  good long walk but haven't had chance to download the photos yet, so they'll have to keep for another day. I'm also starting to plan another crochet blanket with all the merino yarn I've been collecting in the sales. I now have enough for a good sized lap blanket and have been pondering long and hard on the design. 
I've seen some really nice designs based around squares and circles on instagram recently but to make a big blanket I'd had to make a lot of small pieces, then join them and even though I have a lot of yarn in an assortment of colours, I'm worried I'll run out of a particular colour when it comes to joining and making a border. Sooo.... I've decided to go with stripey again. Yes, I know, again. I'll use my Tooty Stripey Pattern again as a starting point but will pick out my favourite stitches and leave out a couple too. 
I have 2 shades each of grey and pink, ivory and the denim blue in the scarf above. As it's quite a limited palettte I'm going to work out a colour pattern and keep repeating it. I have varying amounts of each colour, so will have to sit and work out how to get the most from the yarn without running out before I get to the end - and have enough to make a border too.

The only thing to decide before I get cracking, is do I want the stripes to run side to side - or along the length?? My Tooty Stripey was originally going to be a really big blanket with side to side stripes but I stopped about half way and they are now vertical stripes. Decisions decisions!! Hopefully I'll have some pics next time of what I settled on and started. And news of the Philippines trip of some friends that i mentioned last week. They spend the day with Mara tomorrow and they must all be so excited!!!!!

See you again soon!!  T  xXx

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

A project bag for Mara

If you've been with me for a long time, you might remember when one of my friend's went out to the Philippines to visit Mara, a little girl he sponsors. Looking back , I made several things for her, including a little needlecase   - the tutorial is still on it's own tab at the top of the page. He had the most amazing and emotional time and promised her he would try and visit her again.
He will indeed be going for what will probably be his last visit to her - when she turns 18, sponsorship and therefore contact stops.
Naturally I wanted to make a little something for him to give her again and I opted for a project bag this time, which I then filled with embroidery threads, along with needles, scissors and a small hoop. I don't know if she even likes sewing, never mind embroidery but she can always pass them on to her Mum and friends. I'm sure they won't go to waste! I made it about the same size as the other project bags I've done and added a little felt label with her name (badly) embroidered on it.

Tina's Allsorts, project bag

I'm looking forward to hearing about his visit and seeing all the photos of their time together - what a trip it's going to be!

If you're interested in reading about what I made her before and his previous trip,  you could follow the link above , or go through the archive to around March and April 2015.
(I've just been having a look back myself and apart from it bringing back a lot of memories, I  was surprised at how much I used to write back then compared to now. I think that's down to instagram more than anything else. I've gotten so used to writing short little posts regularly,  I've sort of forgotten how to write a decent length one. Also, I normally write my posts on my tablet, so I'm doing it with one finger not a keyboard and it's hard to add links etc. I should make more effort to get the laptop powered up!!)

I wonder what the temperature is in her part of the world? It's been really cold here! It's supposedly around 6 degrees C but often feels so much colder with a biting wind. Brrr! I'm desperate to go for a long walk but I really don't want to brave the cold. At least it isn't raining today - I'm tired of the rain that seems to have been with us almost constantly for weeks. It hasn't really, it just feels like it. But the days are getting longer at least - it's so good to be able to drive to work and back in daylight - even if the traffic has been horrific!

I'll pop back later in the week with some pics of last week's dog coats being modeled by their new owners. They're a really good fit thank goodness but I'll be happier once I've heard if the buttons are easy to do up on a wriggling dog!!!

See you later.  T xXx

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Doggy Coat Ta-Dah!

Ooh look - a Ta-Dah post!! I haven't done one of those for a while.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before but I was commissioned to make a pair of dog coats for a lady in the US. It was the same lady who ordered the crocheted project bag at the end of last year (although it had some modifications so she could use it as a handbag/purse.)
She has 2 pugs and asked for coats to keep them warm in the winter when they go out. I had a quick look on Ravelry for a pattern I could adapt, as I wanted to make them to my own design really but had no idea about sizing and shaping. I found the Well Dressed Dog Coat by Tamara of Moogly Blog and whilst it was made in aran yarn and quite plain, it had all the measurements I'd need.
I requested some measurements of the intended recipients and got cracking.

When she first mentioned dog coats, I knew I wanted to do something along the lines of my Tooty Stripey Blanket, with lots of different stitches and some texture but a limited colour palette. She asked for air-force blue, and I chose a duck-egg green and two glittery yarns in silver grey and teal to compliment them - the overall effect is very pleasing I think and actually looks frosty and wintry with the glitter.
It really was a "make it up as you go along" project with not a single note written down! Luckily, I made the 2 neckbands with their attached yokes first or I might not have remembered the stitch count etc. but after that, I stitched away merrily and completed the first one before I tackled the second. The original plan was to do a few rows of each and keep switching back and forth but I got a bit carried away with the whole design process!! I do so love to make it up as I go along!!

The original pattern has "armholes" for the front legs but I wasn't sure how easy that would be to put on, so redesigned them a little to have button-up flap across the belly. I also wanted them to be completely reversible so she won't have to stop and think about which way out they need to be before putting them on - although this meant I needed to add buttons on both sides. I stitched on a lot of buttons!!
Here are some quick pics of them, although I have taken plenty of others but not downloaded them yet.

Tina's Allsorts, Well Dressed Dog Coat

Tina's Allsorts, Well Dressed Dog Coat

Tina's Allsorts, Well Dressed Dog Coat

They're on their way to the USA now and I can hardly wait to find out if they fit ok.... watch this space on that one!!
I've set up a project page on Ravelry too.

Talk again soon,   T xXx

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Dragon's Tail Scarf

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I had been making a little scarf/shawl with a jagged edge along one side and a long curve on the other - a bit like a Dragon's Tail perhaps?? (I'm not sure yet whether to call it my Dragon's Tail Scarf as the name has been used quite frequently by other people. But what else could I call it??)

I'd looked for the perfect pattern for some considerable time but couldn't find one anywhere that was exactly what I wanted and realised I would have to try and design my own.

I mentioned at New Year that I'd seen a design called the Hitchhiker scarf  way back in May and I really liked the teeth along the edge - but it was all in garter stitch and I don't like knitting garter stitch at all and I'm not keen on its texture either. (Although I have now discovered I don't like working it due to my knit row tension being too tight, not the stitch itself - although my New Year's Crafting Resolution is to try the stitches I'm no good at and maybe with practise I will grow to like them!)
I didn't see the point in buying a pattern that I would then change beyond all recognition, as I knew it should be fairy simple to work out something with teeth for myself and there was no way I could bring myself to make it all in garter stitch - I wanted ridges and furrows and eyelets!! (Yes! I want it all!!)

So I set to with needles and wool and working out the texture pattern wasn't too difficult at all as I already had a good idea what would work, it was getting the shaping right too that took a bit of time and there were several frogged samples!! I think I've shown you these pics before, when it was starting to go right -

Tina's Allsorts, Dragon's Tail Scarf

Tina's Allsorts, Dragon's Tail Scarf

Eventually (after several hours if truth were told!), I was fairly confident my pattern would work, so I wound my 2 beautiful skeins of Northanger Abbey DK (hand dyed by Miss Moffat Yarns) and tentatively made a start. Then frogged it and started again. Twice...
But then I got the hang of the pattern and the row counting and it rolled along quite well. Although every night I unpicked at least one row once!

Although the pattern itself is simple, there are two things happening at once - creating the texture I wanted with a 6 row pattern, and creating the toothed/curved shape, for which I settled on an 8 row pattern. And when you're not used to counting rows with a texture you're not used to,  it's actually quite easy to get it wrong!

Tina's Allsorts, Dragon's Tail Scarf

The texture pattern I settled on really shows off the plumpness and squishiness of the yarn - I don't think I've ever used anything quite like it. And the colour is just amazing - the pic above captures the colour well. I couldn't resist trying to capture the squishiness on video - 

Tina's Allsorts, Dragon's Tail ScarfI didn't want my shawl/scarf to get wider and wider - and wider! - as so often happens with other shawls. I wanted something that would stay manageable when wrapped around my neck. I  did it by gradually making the teeth along the edge bigger and bigger and just kept going until I ran out of yarn. (This pic is pre-blocking and doesn't show the yarn colour correctly...)

Once done and loosely cast off, I gave it a good soak to really let the water get into the fibres, gave it a good squeeze then a turn through the salad spinner  (yes, really!) and it was ready for blocking. I don't know if you're aware but pure merino becomes very soft and pliable when wet and you think you've Ruined it!! Very scary! But don't panic.  Be gentle with it and definitely dry it flat and all its lovely squishiness and plumpness will return.

I very gently spread it across the floor, trying to only open out the outer toothed edge and left it 24 hours to dry - it was still slightly damp then so I folded it up and put it in the airing cupboard to finish.

And now it's glorious!  I haven't had chance to take any more pics but I keep going back for a squeeze or two and trying it on this way and that - and wishing the weather was cold enough to wear it!

It would look really good in a solid colour as the texture pattern would show up really well and I have some lovely hand dyed 4 ply that would be just right. I tried to persuade a friend to knit it for me but she wasn't having any of it! Not sure I have the patience to make it in 4 ply myself though! I might
have to work out a crochet version as well!

I have now come across a very helpful website that explains how a "vortex shawl" works - never knew they were called that - and how to design your own. Oh how I wish I'd found it sooner - I could have saved myself a lot of effort but I was searching for a pattern - not instructions on how to design my own! But then if you don't work it out for yourself, you don't necessarily understand how the pattern "works".
The site even has some books you can buy and download on how to design different styles of shawls which looked quite tempting! Go and have a look here -

I still haven't written the pattern up properly but it will be available on Ravelry when it's done. And I still can't decide whether to charge a small amount for it or not... Got to write it first though!!!
I'm a bit distracted at the moment with a commission for a pair of dog coats which I'm also designing as I work.

More about that next time. Have a good week,  T  xXx

Tina's Allsorts, Dragon's Tail Scarf