Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Tail Free Knitting/Crochet: Part 2 - Felted Join

In Part 1 of the Tail Free post, I talked about the Russian Join, were a tapestry needle is used to join two strands of yarn together. In this post I'll be taking you through the Felted Join method, also known as the Spit Join, yes SPIT.

This is a great way to achieve an invisible join on two strands of yarn, however, it only works on animal fibers such as wool, alpaca, mohair etc. The yarn pictured is Rowan's Creative Focus Worsted, which I'm using to make the Madison Poncho by Martin Storey.

Two strands of yarn, spliced

Step 1: Unwind the plies on the ends of each strand of yarn.

Two spliced strands of on on top of each other

Step 2: Place one strand on top of the other.

Strands of wet yarn joined together

Step 3: Wet strands of yarn with water or spit (which shouldn't be a problem
if you're making it for yourself).

Joined strand of yarn held on palm

Step 4: Hold the yarn in the palm of your hands

Strands of yarn held between palms of hand

Step 5: Rub the yarn between both hands. The heat that is produced will cause
the yarn to felted, fusing all the strands together.

Strand of yarn

You now have a continuous strand of yarn and can continue with your work without having to sew in those pesky tails.

What other methods other than this and the Russian Join do you know of, I would love to know if there are any other methods out there.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Ephraim Blanket: Free PDF

Crocheted blanket
Ephraim Blanket

Ephraim is one of my favourite blankets that I have made, and I'm happy to say that it is now available as a free PDF download. Just click on the Free PDF Patterns tab at the top of the page to get your copy.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Ruana Progress

So I've finished the swatch for the main motif of the Ruana. It's worked in Patons Colour Works Aran (shade: Terracotta), which is fabulous.

I started working from the cabled motif I was using with the Sirdar Click, but frogged it and went with my original idea of a knit/purl motif.

I'll still work cables along the outer edge, they may be diamond shaped or twisted cables, I haven't decided yet.

A skein of yarn in teraccotta

A knitted swatch motif
Ruana swatch from the back 

Above is a picture of the swatch from the back, below is the front.

Knitted swatch
Ruana swatch from the front

All this knitting has left my finger very, very stiff so I'm taking a break from knitting until Monday. In it's place I have been baking, I made Nutty Oat biscuits yesterday and may make my Nutty Biscotti and Shortbread biscuits throughout the week.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Tail Free Knitting/Crochet: Part 1 - Russian Join

The part of knitting I dread most is having to sew in ends. It can be very time consuming especially if you've worked through many balls of yarn or had many colour changes. There are ways to avoid this and in this post I'll show you one of them, it is known as The Russian Join.

If only I'd known about this technique when doing the Ephraim blanket, boy were there a lot of ends to sew in there.

Picture of a needle threaded with yarn

Step 1: Thread the yarn through the needle

Needle threaded in the middle of yarn

Step 2: Work the needle through the wound plies for 1-2".

Yarn being pulled through center of yarn

Step 3: Pull the needle through, leaving a small loop.

Yarn pulled through loop of another yarn

Step 4: Thread another yarn through the needle and thread it through the loop of the first yarn.

Two different coloured yarns thread into themselves

Step 5: Thread this needle through wound plies of the second yarn as with the first one and pull to tighten.

Two different coloured yarns joined together

Step 6: Tighten the first yarn.

Both have now been joined with no ends to sew in.

Stay tuned for the other technique you can use.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Spicy Meatballs

A plate of meatballs
Spicy Meatballs

Makes25 (-/+) balls
  • 450g/1lb minced meat (lamb or beef)
  • 5ml/1 tsp paprika
  • 2 slices of bread, finely crumbled
  • 2.5 tbsp coriander
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 15ml/1 tbsp curry powder
  • 15ml/1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 15ml/1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 chillies
  • pinch cinnamon, turmeric and ground cardamom
  • salt and ground pepper
Prep: 25 mins | Cook: 35 mins

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F/ Gas mark 6. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
2. Shape the mixture into small balls, using wet hands, and place them on an oven tray
3. Place them in the oven for about 30 - 35 minutes. Cut one meatball in half to check that they have cooked through.

Other Ideas
Brown off the meatballs in a frying pan a then cook in pasta sauce to make spaghetti and meatballs

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Divine Inspiration

Blue filet crochet shawl

I find that a lot of my inspiration comes when I'm in church. I'm listening to my Pastor, teaching a great message, then suddenly something pops in my head. As I'm in church I can't start sketching or writing out plans and I always have to stop myself from getting carried away by thoughts of the yarn I'll use and the shades I'll try out.

Just this Sunday gone my Pastor was continuing his message on 'Deeply in Love' and I started thinking about Romani (pictured above) and how it would look great as a bag. I then thought of making it in different shades and having a contrasting lining and then thought of how I would construct it, flat? in the round? in one piece or two?

Don't be mistaken, I don't drift off into these thoughts because I'm bored, my Pastor is a great teacher. An aspect of his message will either remind me of something that I had planned to do or draw on something that I had seen and then I begin to plan a new project.

All of this reassures me that I am going in the right direction in terms of what I want to do in life, and as long as I continue to be inspired by the One who gave me these talents, I know that I'll never have to look back.

Monday, 21 October 2013

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The Fiber Factor: Challenge 5 Review

Challenge 5 was all about wearable art. The contestants had to use Art Felt and unconventional material to make a catwalk worthy piece. They then put on a fashion show for the judges were their creations were critiqued and a winner chosen.

To watch the results and see the fashion show, click here

My thoughts on each piece are below.
* Sorry if it looks a bit higgledy piggledy, but blogger seems to have a life of it's own when I'm adding lots of pictures.*
All the pictures are from the Fiber Factor website.

Tracy Purtscher - Eve to the 3rd Power

In terms of 'Wearable Art', I think this does meet the brief. However, there doesn't to seem to be much art felt, most of the focus of this garment seems to be on the unconventional material (the sound is low and my surroundings are noisy so I don't know what the material is). This is the type of thing I'd image someone wearing at an awards ceremony. The splash of colour and shaping at the back add another level to this and stop it from looking dull.

Terri Rosenthal - Lara

A very goth piece, I like the colours used in the top and the blend that she created in the skirt. Terri has also made shorts to wear underneath, which is a great extra. The outfit comes with a shoulder/caplet piece, which on the right occasion can look great but overall I think it would have been nicer if it was more like a choker and didn't cover the full shoulder

Talitha Kuomi - Omega

We've gone from goth to biker chick. I'm loving the red on the jacket, its a great shade and nicely shows off the gift wrapping cord that has been worked into the Art Felt. The whole effect is very structured, without being stiff.

Steve May - Life on Mars?

This is what I would call 'Wearable Art'. I do like the sort of animal print look and I think it goes well with the Art Felt fabric. Steve has incorporated a yoga mat into the piece but I don't really see what purpose this serves.

Rachel Henry - Gates of Dawn

From her progress video I can see where she was going. However, I personally don't like the cape. It looks like something made by a student for their final year project. I do like the top, which has a wrought iron embroidered design at the back, the colours are also great and I like the star effect along the bust. I feel this piece could be worn as a party/club outfit (without the cape).

Natalie Larson - Koyo

Overall, I like it more from the back than the front and can see this on a high fashion catwalk. The only thing that bugs me about this piece are the sleeves. If they had been cuffed they would have looked finished, when I look at this it feels like the model is in the middle of a fitting.

Meghan Navoy - Electric

This doesn't have much of a wow factor for me. I can see this being worn on the high street. The luminous colour is the only thing that I think is a little out there, but even this isn't very surprising considering what people are wearing these days. The finished look was a little misshapen at the back. If this was accentuated maybe it would have met the brief in terms of 'Wearable Art'.

Lauren Riker - Sea Gleam

Another girly creation by Lauren, I would say that this is 'Wearable Art', though not as much as some of the others. This outfit has a detachable train/tail, which turns it into a very wearable dress. The colours are my favourite out of all the designs, Lauren used CDs to add shimmer to the skirt and also added broken pieces to the train/tail to add to the mermaid look.

Katie Rempe - The Jordan Baker Special

I like the dress, but don't think that it's very 'Wearable Art'. The shrug/jacket is not to my taste and I think it would have looked nicer if the material had a bit of gloss or shimmer. Compared to some of the others, it's a bit of a letdown as the final piece to be critiqued.

John - Nike

This has to be my favourite, the first time I saw it I thought of the Snow Queen. This is 'Wearable Art', but with a touch of class. John has used tags on the back to give a scale effect. The shades are amazing, particularly on the bottom half of the dress. I can see this at the Oscars.

Jody Gordon Lucas - Nacht

As with Lauren's dress, I wouldn't say this has as much of a 'Wearable Art' factor in comparison to some of the others. Having said that, I do think it has a wow factor, particularly when the hood is up. The yellow is a great contrast to the rest of the piece and makes it stand out. The only downside is the finish, when the hood is up it doesn't sit well.

Jennette Cross - Giselle as Willis

I like the colours, however, as with Meghan's piece I don't see a wow factor. My favourite part of this is the knitted top. She has incorporated washers into the design, a nice touch, though it looks better at the front compared to the back, which has three rows of washers instead of one. I see this selling more in a high street store as opposed to something you'd expect in an artsy fashion show.

The Top Three

John, Terri and Talitha

The Winner

John Ravet

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Pinky and Ruana

I started working on the Ruana swatch a few days ago, using Sirdar Click chunky. I liked the overall colour but didn't think it worked with the motif I was trying to produce. The colour changes weren't as blended as I wanted, I was hoping for something with more of an ombre look.
After an online search I found what I was looking for in Patons Colourworks, and should arrive on Tuesday.
My plan is to get the swatch done by the end of next week and then finalise the stitch pattern that will be worked in the border panels. Once this is done I'll start knitting it up.

knitting swatch for Ruana pattern
Swatch for Ruana

In other news, it's been over a month since I fractured my finger and not only has it not healed, I haven't heard from the fracture clinic. I can use my finger a lot more than when I first injured it but I'm still limited in certain things, particularly knitting and crochet.

I initially decided not to do any crafting until it healed, but as time passed my hands began to feel idle and not wanting to give the devil anything to make use of (don't worry he doesn't know where I live), I tried some knitting. At first it was very painful and I could barely hold the yarn, now I can manage a few rows but have to take a break as my finger swells up slightly and becomes stiff.

                                   swollen pinky side view
                                        As straight as it can go
swollen pinky birds eye view

What you see in the pictures is how it looks when not agitated, but if I knit or knock it against something (or one of the boys grabs it) it swells up and becomes stiffer.
I have a lot of patterns planned and hope that this thing gets sorted soon so that I can work towards having everything finished and written up by spring.

Friday, 18 October 2013

How to Mend Holes in Woollens

By Lady Ott

There's nothing better than coseying up into a warn jumper in the winter, except if you're coseying up into a jumper that you've made yourself or had made for you. But horror of horrors you find a hole in your beloved knit, What do you do? .Well, before relegating it to a lounging jumper or loading it off to a charity shop, you can try this solution, courtesy of Kate Byerley of Lady Ott.

This is one of my many crafty finds on Pinterest. I am so glad I found this as I want to make a jumper for winter and have already started on the Madison poncho by Martin Storey.

Happy mending

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Standing Double Crochet: How To Join Without The Slip Stitch

By Moogly

I love crochet, with the countless stitches that are available there is no end to what a crocheter is able to create. Having said that, one thing that does bug me is having to start a new row, especially when working in the round. It's difficult not to notice the point at which the new row was started. The chain 2/3 that is usually worked to represent the first stitch in the row looks a lot different to the other stitches and there can sometimes be a gap between the first and second stitch.

One blogger, Tamara Kelly ( has found a way around this, it's called a Standing Double Crochet, you just work a double crochet into your chosen stitch, no working a slip stitch to join or chaining required.

'How do you do this'? I hear you ask, just click on the link were you'll find both a video and picture tutorial. This method seems to be aimed at those who are changing colour, I have wondered whether something similar can be done when starting a new round, maybe that's something I can try when my finger heals. I'm still waiting to hear from the fracture clinic, it's been over a month since I broke my finger. I can knit/crochet but it's very uncomfortable and I have to stop regularly for breaks...not good.

As an added bonus I've included a link for a tutorial on how to end a round without working a slip stitch to join.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sewing A Lining Into A Crocheted Bag (works for knitted ones too)

By Future Girl

I stumbled upon this on a craft blog by Alice Merlino (aka Future Girl) when I finished Cinnamon and Peachy Keen, my two crocheted bags. I couldn't think of how to line the bags without there being an obvious seam at the top or the bottom  of the bag.
I was given illustrated instructions for one method from a family member, however, they are not a crafter and couldn't understand why their method wouldn't work.
After reading this tutorial  I wondered why I hadn't thought of it myself. It's very simple and can be used for knitted bags too. I now use this method to line all my bags and they look professional each time.
Click the link to pop over to the site, and add another bow to your crafty repertoire.
Also check out this post on how to prepare the lining for the bag.
Lining Tutorial

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Fiber Factor: Challenge 5 Progress

The judging videos for Challenge 5 of The Fiber Factor will be up in a few days, so I thought it would be good idea to put up a link to the progress videos. There some very interesting concepts and I'm looking forward to seeing them all. I've tried to imagine what I might do if I were one of the contestants and I can't really think of anything that would be catwalk/runway worthy.

Challenge 5 Progress

If you want to see the details of Challenge 5 click here