Knitted Viggo Vest

I’ve been knitting for about three years now so I thought it was about time I started to venture out into items other than fingerless mittens, socks, scarfs and shawls. Last year I made myself a cardigan (which I wore whilst on holiday), but the Viggo Vest was my first project to gift to someone that needed to be a certain size.

One of my friends had her first baby earlier this year and I really wanted to make something for them. I started out with a plan to make a baby blanket, but the yarn I had in mind was too thick and dark and despite hours of plotting, planning, and watching, it just wasn’t working. Fortunately another lovely knitting friend came to my rescue and sent some leftover yarn from the item she had made for the same baby. It was some lovely Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply in two coordinating shades so I decided to ditch the blanket idea and make a striped vest. I choose the Viggo Vest pattern, partly because of this adorable photo – I mean who could resist?!

Adorable photo from Viggo Vest pattern

So, I got myself a smaller circular needle so that I could work in the round in the regular way rather than in magic loop as I normally do. I set to work and soon realised the pattern wasn’t quite as straight forward as I’d thought. Firstly, it’s striped and as I learned with my Nemo mittens that means I need to think about jogless stripes. It was a little tricky with this pattern because the stripes were only two rows deep, so I had to do a bit of research into how best to tackle this. In the end I settled with the ‘tug and twist’ method. Then, the pattern got a bit complicated. Well, not complicated, but just new to me. I had to do the shaping by casting off some stitches which got a little fiddly, and I had to pick up stitches to knit on the top ribbing sections.

Starting to cast off to shape for the sleeves

Then came the buttons. In reality not a difficult thing at all, but in my head it was. I didn’t have any buttons that looked right so I scoured my local haberdasheries until I found some. They’re a little bigger than what I was thinking of, but I struggled to find something that suited the colours and the style of the vest so I decided to make slightly larger button holes and got with bigger buttons. I thought it was going to be so complicated and put it off for quite a while, but one weekend I took the plunge… and realised that actually it was incredibly simple!

Buttons!

Buttons! It was a little out of shape so needed blocking, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much that evened it all out.

I bundled it up and sent it off, hoping and praying that it would fit the recipient. It had taken me a lot longer to make than I thought it would and of course in the meantime the recipient had been growing! Fortunately though, it fit, and the recipient’s Mum kindly shared a photo of him wearing it. Isn’t he adorable?

The vest being beautifully modelled

I’ve definitely conquered my fear of fitted clothes (well, for babies anyway!) so won’t be so afraid of similar patterns in the future. I’ll just need to start them earlier!

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2013 crafts

It’s been a good year for crafts for me, though I’m aware I haven’t blogged about many.

Selection of 2013 projects

Selection of 2013 projects

Centre: Twinkly Euphrosyne shawl
Top: Crochet coasters
Left: Stoke City waffle scarf
Bottom: Hermione Hearts Cashmerino hat
Right: Soaking up the cables mitts

I’ve been knitting things for both myself and as gifts, and even a few requests. I’ve also learnt to crochet so I’m pleased that I can now do basic knitting or crochet patterns. So what did I aim to do in 2013 and did I do it? According to my blog post from this time last year, I hoped to do the following in 2013:

  • Finish The Snowman cross stitch
    Yes, I finished this around February and finally bought a frame yesterday so it is now proudly dispelled in our bedroom (see yesterday’s Blipfoto) and will come out every Christmas.
  • Finish Regal Tiger cross stitch
    Not really. I did some work on this and all the backstitch is complete but the couching isn’t done yet. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with it when I’m finished so the motivation to finish hasn’t really been there.
  • Start a Gorjuss cross stitch
    Not yet. I keep intending to though, again, I’m not sure where they would go when finished so no real desire to work on them at the moment.
  • Knit a garment (e.g. jumper/cardigan)
    Sort of. I’ve not yet been brave enough to make a garment for myself, but I did make knit a baby cardigan. It went surprisingly well, so has given me more confidence, but I’ve bought a Craftsy course on Fit to Flatter to learn what styles would suit me before taking the plunge and making a garment for myself.
  • Continue to learn new knitting skills – cast ons, bind offs, colour work, lace work etc.
    I’ve learnt lots this year so am really pleased with progress in this area. Lots of different types of cast ons and bind offs for different types of finish for projects. I’ve also recently learnt fair isle knitting (see this photo for my first attempt) but I haven’t yet used it in a project. I’ve done a couple of shawls with lace sections (red Henslowe and purple Henslowe), and one lace weight shawl which is patterned throughout (Twinkly Euphrosyne). I’m really proud of it and wear it a lot more than I thought I would so intend to do more shawls in future – the different patterns keep it really interesting too.
  • Only buy yarn if I have a project in mind for it (or it’s a MASSIVE bargain)
    I haven’t bought much yarn this year, and when I have it has been for a particular project. The only exception to that is a couple of visits to special wool shops but I was fairly restrained and only bought yarn I knew I would use for a specific purpose but just hadn’t picked out a pattern yet. I’ve received some donations of yarn too so I could do with having a bit of a sort out soon.
  • Meet up with other knitters (this should be happening in January and maybe later in the year for shows)
    Yes! I met up with knitters in London a few times this year which was lovely, and met some knitters when I visited Cambridge too. I didn’t make it to a show (I intended to go to Fibre Flurry but sadly it was cancelled), though to be honest I’m not too sure shows are my kind of thing anyway so meeting up with knitters to chat, share projects, and learn from each other has been great this year.
  • Maybe try crochet again
    I did indeed, and I can now do it! I think knitting has definitely helped here, I’m much better at holding the yarn and getting the tension even which helps with crochet. I’m still only able to do fairly basic crochet, but I was able to crochet a couple of Christmas gifts (some coasters and a catnip mouse) so am pleased with my progress. I’m also finding crochet good for travelling with – far less likely to have a disaster on public transport by accidentally dropping stitches!

If my Ravelry records are up-to-date, I completed 22 different knitting or crochet projects in 2013, and have another 4 in progress. I’ve made 5 pairs of fingerless mittens, 3 shawls, 2 cowls, 1 scarf, 2 sets of coasters, 1 hat, 1 headband, 1 baby cardigan, 3 toys, 2 pairs of socks, 1 card, and 6 flowers (yes, I knitted flowers for Mum and Grandma for Mother’s Day – they were a bit of a disaster but very amusing!).

So what’s in store for 2014? Well, I’m going to break tradition and not set myself any specific goals or targets. I’m trying to live for the moment more rather than do things because I think I ought to or because I put it on a list of things to do. I’ll probably be knitting some shawls, I’ll probably be working on the throw for our bed, and I’ll probably be doing little projects (for myself, as gifts, or for charity) in between too. I’ll probably be knitting and crocheting, I may be cross stitching, and I may even venture into some other crafty avenues. I might even blog about them too. Or you know, I might not. Reckless I know! 😉

Hope you’ve enjoyed the things you have made in 2013, and hope you enjoy the things you make in 2014. Here’s to a happy and healthy year ahead (fingers crossed)!

New yarn purchases

This week has been a really busy work week – I’ve been referring to it as the #weekof3cities as I was in Manchester from Monday to Wednesday, Birmingham on Thursday, and London on Friday. Fortunately two of those cities have excellent yarn stores so I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Purl City Yarns in Manchester and Loop in London. I haven’t bought any yarn for a while (I’ve been funding my nail polish addiction!) and was worried I was beginning to lose my knitting mojo, so I thought it would be good to treat myself to some pretty yarn that inspired me to pick up knitting again. Here’s what I treated myself to:

20130707-135124.jpg

You’ll no doubt notice a bit of a colour theme – I’m starting to realise my favourite colours for accessories tend to be pink-red-purple shades. In the photo are:

  • Top left: Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Rose Pink. I’m not sure what I’m going to make out of this yet, probably a lace shawl or shrug
  • Bottom left: Babylonglegs Perfection Lace in Decadance. I’m planning to make Rock Island out of this – it’s a lovely soft yarn and smells really nice too, very much looking forward to knitting with it
  • Top right: The Uncommon Thread BFL Light DK in Ripe Plum. I fell in love with the colours of this and it’s really soft too. Probably going to make some mittens out of this.
  • Middle right: DyeForYarn Merino/Silk Fingering in Rotten Berry Tart. Bit of an extravagant one this one, but I’ve used this yarn in a different shade before and absolutely loved it. I’m going to make the same shawl (Henslowe) with it as I know it works well and will be good to have one in purple.
  • Bottom right: Rico Design Essentials Merino DK in Mauve. I’ve been wanting to make some Blueberry Waffle Socks in a washable yarn and this seemed perfect. I’ll only be wearing around the house so it doesn’t need to be too hard wearing so hopefully this should work OK.

It’s so nice to have some new yarn and plans – I can’t wait to get started on them. Should keep me out of trouble for a while!

The magic of blocking

I have finally conquered my fear of blocking! Armed with blocking wires and eleventy million pins as the pattern requested (though I actually only needed about 20!), plus my new foam jigsaws and my little bottle of Soak, I successfully blocked my first lace shawl. I’ll write more about the Henslowe shawl in another post (I absolutely loved everything about the pattern and am sure I’ll make it again), but for now – look at the difference blocking made!

Pre and post blocking

Pre and post blocking

2012 overview

I’m really pleased that I’m finding more time to spend on crafts – I find it a great way to relax and it’s good to have non-work projects and targets.

Knitting

The big surprise of the year is how much I love knitting. I’ve been sucked in completely and most of my thoughts now revolve around knitting – what yarn to buy, what projects to make, what to work on next, how to work new stitches, etc etc. So the big revelation of 2012 was learning to knit and totally falling in love with it!

According to Ravelry, I’ve knit 31 different things this year (and have 2 in progress). I love the fact that even a novice knitter can make so many things in just one year – so much quicker than cross stitch! I started with a scarf, and some baby booties, hat and mittens for a friend. Then I progressed to cowls, shawls, hats, fingerless mittens, socks and toys. I still haven’t dared attempt a fitted item of clothing yet; I suspect that may be a challenge for 2013.

I seem to have a growing list of projects in my Ravelry queue, and an expanding collection of yarn waiting to be knit, so I’m going to try to be a bit more careful with my planning for future. I have a few items I’d like to make for myself next, as I’ve been mainly knitting for others these last few months. I do also have a couple of requests though – some Malabrigo mittens, and a scarf for my brother.

Cross stitch

I’ve done hardly any cross stitch this year. I still have the finishing touches to make to Regal Tiger, but I haven’t done those yet as I’m not sure where I will put it once it’s finished. Over Christmas I’ve been working on a kit I bought a couple of years ago, based on The Snowman. I’m hoping to finish it soon and find a frame. Once framed it will be going in the Christmas decorations box with my framed penguin cross stitch and will come out each Christmas.

I think I’ll be mainly knitting next year (I have Henslowe and Lacy Baktus high on my list of priorities), but I would like to make a start on a Gorjuss cross stitch – I have two Gorjuss kits waiting to be made.

Crafty aims for 2013:

  • Finish The Snowman cross stitch
  • Finish Regal Tiger cross stitch
  • Start a Gorjuss cross stitch
  • Knit a garment (e.g. jumper/cardigan)
  • Continue to learn new knitting skills – cast ons, bind offs, colour work, lace work etc.
  • Only buy yarn if I have a project in mind for it (or it’s a MASSIVE bargain)
  • Meet up with other knitters (this should be happening in January and maybe later in the year for shows)
  • Maybe try crochet again

Bring it on!

Knitted christmas gifts 2012

Now I’ve finished my blogging frenzy and caught up with the things I haven’t been able to blog about, I thought it would be useful to pull together a list of the all things I made for Christmas gifts this year. I had a lot more free time than money this year, so thought handmade gifts would be a good option. Some took a little while longer than I had anticipated, but I learnt something with every single project and really enjoyed making them. The recipients also seem really pleased with the gifts, so definitely worthwhile. During the process I also fell in love with Malabrigo Worsted yarn, and with making fingerless mitts. They keep me hands warm enough in most situations, and I can still use my phone (plus I can co-ordinate the colour with my nail varnish!). Anyway, here’s a list of gifts I made for Christmas in 2012:

They’ve kept me busy for the last 2-3 months so now it’s time to knit something for myself!

Much-quicker-than-gloves hat

I thought I’d like to knit my Dad something for Christmas but wasn’t sure what. Then I came across a nice pair of gloves, bought the pattern and yarn, and then got stuck. I had no idea there were so many different sizes in gloves and I had no idea what size my Dad would be. I measured mine and my boyfriend’s hands and the sizes in the pattern seemed huge. I asked friends for advice, and everyone was extremely helpful. The pattern designer even spotted my cry for help and came to my rescue. I was all set to go. Then I started knitting. Oh my word. The whole glove is a rib pattern, so a bit slower than regular knitting (all that switching between knit and purl stitches!) and combined with the fact I was making them in 4 ply yarn on 3.25mm needles, it made for very slow progress. Once I realised this was going to take a LOT longer than I had anticipated, and still might not even fit, I abandoned that idea and put them to one side to make for my boyfriend at a later date (so I can measure as I go!).

So then I needed a different present for my Dad, when I remembered my friends had recommended the Turn a Square hat pattern (fortunately in worsted weight yarn so much quicker). So I chose some new yarn, and eventually got going. I only had a few days before Christmas but I was off work so could dedicate time to it. The cast on took a few attempts (the yarn was quite fluffy and split easily therefore I found myself knitting into part of the strand thinking it is a full strand), but I got there in the end and once I got started on the hat part it was all smooth sailing. The hat is a little long I think – it’s a bit too long for my boyfriend (in photo) and when Dad tried it on he had the same issue. I think if I was to repeat it I’d start decreasing a little before recommended in the pattern. I’m really happy with the colours though, and think I have enough to knit another one the same so may do that for my boyfriend.

Here’s the hat being modelled by my boyfriend:

Turn a square hat

Turn a square hat

And a close up of the stripes:

Stripes close up

Stripes close up

I can definitely see myself using this pattern again, especially with this sort of yarn so that the colour gradually changes as you knit. It’s a good project for trying a new type of cast on – the hat itself is really straight forward but the tubular cast on and rearranging of stitches is a little tricky if you’re used to just a long tail cast on. My project notes are in Ravelry.