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

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

RAF Sweetheart and the Tooty Stripey Blanket

Here it is!! The blanket made by RAF Sweetheart using my Tooty Stripey Blanket pattern - hasn't she made a good job of it??!!

The first pic shows it pinned out to shape before the borders were added.

And here it is with her very effective border  of granny stitches.

RAF Sweetheart, Tooty Stripey Blanket

RAF Sweetheart, Tooty Stripey Blanket

I still can't quite believe that I designed it.... Or that I managed to write my hieroglyphics in a way that someone else could follow!!

If you'd like to see some of her other creations, you can find her on Ravelry, Instagram, facebook  and Pinterest.

If you have made your own version, please do get in touch as I'd love to see your creations!! And Thank you again, RAF Sweetheart!!!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year already?  And just where did that year go?! In some ways it feels like it should only be February... and I completely forgot to wish everyone Merry Christmas. I did it on Instagram but not here... sorry...

If I had remembered to pop in here, I could have told you about the gift swap I was going to do with a lady I met on Instagram, the lovely @florahoneypot. She asked if anyone would be interested in doing a swap with her and so many people said yes, she picked 10 of us!! We told each other a bit about ourselves and swapped addresses. This is what I sent her - a project bag I made and a few other bits and bobs, some hand made and others purchased. She was very happy with her gifts when she opened them on Christmas Day.

Tina's Allsorts

And this is what she gave me - 

 Tina's Allsorts

A beautiful pair of soft grey wrist warmers which I plan to wear in the office as they won't stop me using the keyboard. A skein of hand dyed yarn, a sweet little tin (I love tins and boxes and I've already filled it!), a reel of ribbon, a tape measure, chocolates and a colouring book. Such generosity from someone who's never even met me!! She certainly helped bring a little magic back into Christmas this year!

She must have been very busy making things to put in her gift swap with 10 people...

I've made quite a few things myself this year when I think about it. There was the Tooty Fruity Blanket I gave my niece for her first baby.

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Fruity Blanket

Then I used the remaining yarn to design my own stripey blanket which I called "The Tooty Stripey Blanket". It now seems a silly name but it made sense at the time!

I wanted to use lots of different stitches and textures and for it to be completely reversible. It took a surprising amount of time to write up the chart ready to release on Ravelry. But I got there eventually and was very happy with it. I quickly followed it with a rainbow coloured version to test the pattern and correct any errors.

I knew it would work as a full sized blanket as well as a baby size, and quickly started it in the colours Lucy of Attic24 was using for her latest project. She was making her Harmony Blanket again but in her original set of colours - so in her honour, I called my full size blanket my Tooty Harmony!!
It became my favourite make of the year and it is very warm and snuggly - although it never did reach "full size" as I ran out of yarn and decided to leave it as it was. It covers me from toes to chest and is perfect for chilly winter evenings.

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Harmony Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Harmony Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Harmony Blanket

I've just had a quick look at Ravelry and my pattern has been downloaded 1886 times as of today! There are a very small number of comments and projects using it though but I suppose that's what happens when you give something away for free. Everyone takes a copy but then doesn't use it. Had I charged a small amount maybe it would only have been downloaded by people who would actually use it. But that's fine. I like a free pattern myself and will often adapt them to suit my needs. 

I was Very Pleased to see a lady on IG was using my pattern and she made a lovely little baby blanket herself. She said how much she enjoyed using my pattern and that it was well written and thankou for all the extra hints and tips on my blog page (see the button at the top of the screen). If you're on IG, her username is RAFsweetheart. She has promised to email a photo to share with you, so I'll come back and add it as soon as it arrives.
Edit - here it is!!!

RAF Sweetheart, Tooty Stripey Blanket

She made a fabulous job of it! I still can't quite believe that I designed it - or that I managed to write up a chart for 80+ pattern rows that anyone managed to follow!!

I went on to make two more baby blankets as gifts using some of the leftover little bits from my Tooty Harmony Blanket - I called them Harmony Baby Blankets. The colours I used are the same - but one is then joined with cream yarn and the other with colours. They have different borders but apart from that, the pattern is the same. It just goes to show what a difference colour can make to a project!!

Tina's Allsorts, Harmony Baby Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Harmony Baby Blanket

One exciting thing that happened this year was that we started to sell wool in the craft shop - that meant we could set up a knit and natter group! Or as I like to call it "Knit & Knatter, Crochet & Chatter"! It's a lovely little group of ladies, some of whom knit and others crochet - and some are very new to each. And they all knatter!!! It's the best two hours of the week!!

We have some nice baby wool in the shop and I bought a set which I used to make this baby blanket, using a free pattern I'd seen on Instagram (and yes, I made sure to say thankyou and give credit when I shared pics!). The pattern is called "Lost in Time" and was well named as you really could lose track of time while working on it. I put it in my Folksy shop and it sold to a lady in Scotland who bought it for her grand daughter.

Tina's Allsorts, Lost in Time

I had a message from her a few weeks later thanking me again for the blanket and saying it was so lovely, people kept admiring it more than her grand daughter!!! That made my day!

This little cardigan is a sample I made for the shop - it was also the first time I think I took a lot of time and effort photographing something  for Instagram. I'd read a tutorial somewhere on how to take better product shots and this was my dry run! Since then, I've always tried to take good shots against a neutral background - and try and make sure my name is on it somewhere too!

Tina's Allsorts

During the first half of the year, I took a holiday in the north east to visit a friend and she took me to Whitley Bay and the most amazing shop I've ever seen - Ring-a-Rosie Yarn. It was during this visit that I discovered and fell in love with hand dyed yarn. The owner Barbara is an indie dyer and this is just a taste of what she'd done -

Tina's Allsorts

I keep buying it and the colours are so lush - but I must stop buying 4 ply! I hate using 4 ply as it takes so long to make anything but very few of the indie dyers ever use anything thicker, although luckily Barbara did.

During the summer, I entered a tea cosie design competition in a magazine and won the runner-up prize!! This is what I made on a theme of the Blooming Great Tea Party for Marie Curie -

Tina's Allsorts, Blooming Great Tea Cosie

She's available for sale in my Etsy shop (link in sidebar) with all proceeds being donated to Marie Curie.

My prize was an awful lot of Sirdar Cotton Yarn which I've used before and is a dream to work with. I made myself a project bag to keep big projects in and put a pic on instagram. Well, I had a comment from someone asking if she could order one!! Well, yes, I said, that would be fine!! We agreed a price and I set to working on it. I modified the lining for her as she planned on using it as a shoulder bag rather than a project bag and then I posted it off to the US and waited for it to arrive. And waited. And waited... A full 2 weeks later, it did indeed arrive and she was very happy with it - phew!!

Tina's Allsorts

I did enjoy making it and there's now a beach bag design swimming round in my head!!

If you're a regular visitor, you will know I've been knitting a tunic dress for the great niece who received the Tooty Fruity Blanket. I decided to be clever and make it in the round but it took soooooo long!! It was also coming out quite small... Luckily it does fit her but won't last long!

It was at this point it dawned on me that after spending most of my life knitting, I do not work my purl rows rather loosely - I work my knit rows rather tightly!! Who knew?? It's taken me 40 years to learn that fact!!!! It would explain why I detest working garter stitch which is knit stitch on every row. I always found it a very tight stitch to work and avoided it like the plague - now I know why.

I've had a little look to see what were the 3 most popular posts on my blog this year and they were -

Emma stripey blanket
Lost in time ta dah 
Ringarosie Yarns

I'm not surprised the post about Emma's blanket was so popular (I made it nearly 5 years ago and it's had almost 20k views on Ravelry!) but the other two did surprise me. I think the second one must have been mentioned on facebook somewhere as I suddenly had a lot of traffic from there after it had sold. And Ringarosie Yarns?? Well, such a wonderful shop deserves to come in the top three!!

I had a look at my top posts on Instagram too - I found a handy app that produced this for me -

Tina's Allsorts, "bestnine2017

All my favourite blankets, plus my Bargello Alliums - I really must get on and finish that!!
I was scrolling through earlier today looking at everyone elses best nine of 2017 and saw this -

At first I thought, hold on, that's MY BLANKET top right!! What's it doing there?? Then I read what Ali had put underneath and saw that she had tagged 9 people and her favourite pic from their page. IG have changed their algorithms recently, so if you have less than 2000 followers your pictures come up on fewer peoples feeds. So she thought she'd show her faves! How lovely!! Thank you so much Ali!!

I'd like to share two more things before I wish you Happy New Year - firstly, another little video. This time of our cat Fluffy having a whale of a time with the wrapping paper on Christmas Day!! Turn your sound up!

And secondly, a New Years Resolution. To use garter stitch!!!! 

Now that I know it was just my tight tension that was the problem, I'm going to give it a try.  Here are some pics of a sample piece I'm working on - this is using a scrap of hand dyed that I bought from Barbara of Ringarosie. It's a variation on the Hitchhiker scarf which is plain garter stitch (a pattern which Barbara told me about). I thought it would look good with some purl rows thrown in and some eyelets. 
The hand dyed yarn I'm going to use has been wound and I just need to check the tension with it before casting on. Watch this space!!!

Tina's Allsorts

Tina's Allsorts

Tina's Allsorts

Tina's Allsorts

And THANK YOU for stopping by!!
Tina xXx

PS Apologies if this post is a little disjointed - it took a long time to write as I kept popping back in and out!! I've got some things in the wrong order and have probably missed other things which should have had pride of place... and there aren't enough links!!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas Carols

The Christmas tree lights in the Cathedral had their official turn on recently. The staff gather under the tree and the choristers sing a carol by candlelight.
This is a 2 minute video but the voices are so clear and magical I just had to share it with you. (Please excuse the people talking right at the start!) It's out of focus a lot I know but that doesn't affect the sound!

I took a photo afterwards,  trying to get in the whole tree. It wasn't til I looked at it later that I saw Father Christmas was there!!! He must have tiptoed in very quietly - but I think he's had some practise at that!!

On the crafting front I've nearly finished the knitted tunic for my great niece - just the sleeves to go. I'm not sure it's going to fit her mind...

And the 2 pairs of mittens have now had some shirring elastic added around the cuffs, so they have a better fit. I plan on getting plenty of wear out of them this winter. 

I bought a ball of the new variegated yarn cakes from James Brett this week and have started knitting a cowl. It's shaped so that as it gets longer you work decreases to give a better shape. This yarn is incredibly soft and should make a really cuddly cowl.
Isn't it a gorgeous colour?  It's shade number NL5. 

Well that's all I've got time for today.  Guess it must be a busy time of year...

See you again soon - and take care if you've had snow!   T  xx