Vix Knits… and crochets and sews…

My adventures in the wonderful world of arts and crafts

Sewing progress

Just a few quick pics today (it’s almost time for The Apprentice!)

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This is the first practice piece, I started by sewing a square in the middle and then a double hem along one edge (sorry the pics aren’t great, I had to turn the flash off so the stitches would show up)

Not bad for a first attempt though, right?

Next I had to practice sewing onto a piece of crochet, which was ok but had to be sewn crochet side up so it was difficult to guide the piece properly.

This practice piece was used more than once and, as such, was unsuitable for photographing

So, here is a finished notebook (mine/practice)


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Again, this was sewn crochet side up so the stitching is far from perfect

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However, my stitching genius came up with an amazing solution – pin a piece of greaseproof paper on the other side of the crochet and then you can sew it fabric side up and guide the stitching along the lining!

It works like a charm and Mum’s notebook looks much better

DSCF2727 DSCF2728 DSCF2729 DSCF2730Still not perfect but she was really pleased with it so I’m really happy too.

Right, that took longer than planned so I’m off for telly and more crochet (and maybe some wine…)

 

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Lace Cardi – finished (part two)

So, you all know I’ve had problems with this pattern (see previous post – Problematic patterns)

But you also know I’m stubborn as a mule so I stuck with it, worked it out and finished my lovely cardi (see yesterday’s post – Lace Cardi – finished!)

I fell in love with this pattern instantly when I got the magazine (Inside Crochet issue 32) and had seen some lovely statement buttons that were just perfect.

So, the yarn and buttons were top of my birthday wish-list last year and Steven did a great job of choosing the colour.

When it came to casting on however, I had problems from the start.

My tension never matches the pattern but I kept coming out in between sizes and ended up needing to use a larger hook than I was comfortable with for 4ply yarn.

I think it works mostly because of the stitch pattern, if there were more trebles or fans or anything, I think it would look really bad.

Then, because the main piece is worked all-in-one, I was working on over 200 stitches. Or should have been. Because there were so many, I kept miscounting and ended up 30 stitches short.

I’d really struggled with the first few rows but the size seemed okay so I decided to make the best of it.

The next problem I had was joining the main piece and the sleeves since the pattern tells you to end with a DC row but then join with a DC row. This, however, was fairly easy to sort out.

I took out the last row on each piece and then joined them according to the pattern. Problem solved.

But then the rest of the pattern called for far too many rows. I pondered this one for a fair while.

Without completing the pattern, I had no idea what it was supposed to look like (no schematic) and the pattern gave no clue as to which of the sizes was shown in the picture (sometimes different sizes require different treatment).

I decided the simplest way to solve this problem was to make it up as I went along. Thankfully the stitch pattern is quick and easy so ripping it out isn’t really an issue (just irritating).

Looking at my notes, I thought the best place to start was to just work fewer rows before the shaping so the rows at the end were still the same.

It worked! First time!

I’ve decided the problem is that different sizes are apparently worked out using a formula and some pieces aren’t test crocheted in all sizes so no problems are flagged.

While I was really disappointed with the whole escapade (and the fact that I’ve got nearly two whole balls of yarn left!) I feel most let down by the magazine publishers and the designer.

I kept a constant eye out for errata and posted on the Inside Crochet facebook wall for help but I heard nothing.

Ravelry was no help either, there are four ‘projects’ listed under the pattern: one is mine; one the designers; one the magazines; and the last says that the crocheter isn’t really doing much these days.

I was also surprised to see that the designer had only used two balls of yarn to make the piece. I’ve used much less than two balls but the pattern instructed me to buy three (that pesky formula again?)

So, overall those six/seven words really do sum up my feelings about this piece but it’s made me very wary about printed patterns in general and Inside Crochet and Vicki Brown patterns in particular.

I’d love to hear thoughts on the subject. Have you or anyone you know tried this pattern? Or another one by Vicki Brown? Her designs are so lovely but after this, I’m just not sure

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Problematic patterns

I’m being driven absolutely nuts lately by errors in knitting and crochet patterns! Does anyone else have this problem?!

I think the last project I completed that was free of any issues was in January. It’s not good.

And I’m not convinced these are misprints, some are simply bad maths and others… laziness maybe? Or inexperienced proof readers?

So the latest in this long line of problematic patterns is my beloved Lace Cardi.

The main body is worked in one piece to the armholes and fastened off. The sleeves are made separately and the three pieces are joined together simply by rejoining the yarn and continuing the pattern.

And therein lies the problem.

The pattern is a basic fishnet stitch with the button bands and faux side seams made of alternating rows of DC and TR.

The pattern instructs you to finish the first three sections on a DC row. But when you rejoin, you’re instructed to start with a DC row.

It doesn’t matter how I come at it, I can’t think it through. The fishnet pattern won’t work with two DC rows together. Nor will the buttonholes be correctly placed.

I also sat and worked out the row count for the next section and it’s working out far too big. And the picture shows fewer buttons than are (apparently) called for.

So I did the only thing I could think of… I asked for help from the experts.

More to the point, I posted my problem on the Inside Crochet facebook page.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard nothing from anybody, no experts, no fellow crocheters.

I’ve looked everywhere I can think of for any published errata but there’s nothing.

I’m so disappointed. This was a project that I was really excited about, all the more so because Steven bought me the yarn and beautiful buttons.

But people can’t even be bothered to respond.

I found the same with those crochet egg decorations (see previous post – Eggs-perimentation) I posted a comment on the corrections page for Inside Crochet issue three (the first one, anyway)

The comment was approved but nobody responded, apart from a fellow crocheter who had had the same problem.

Even when I commented back that I’d sorted it and offered my version of the pattern, nobody from the magazine responded.

Why is that do you think? Why approve the comment but do nothing to resolve the issue?

I’m starting to lose faith and it makes me really glad that I’m both stubborn and a bit of a smart-alec problem-solver!

So, if you know anyone who has made Vicki Brown’s South Sea cardigan from Inside Crochet I’d love to know how they did it.

Right now I’m thinking, rip out a row on each section so they finish on a TR row, join according to the pattern and work fewer rows from there before finishing the neck edging.

Any pointers? Anyone?

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Simply Crochet magazine review

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I was so excited about this new mag, I subscribed almost from the start (I was just too late to subscribe from issue one but got issues two, three and four for £5!)

I wanted to wait before posting a review, judge a few issues rather than just one.

You all know how excited I get about magazines and it’s always seemed odd to me that there are so many monthly knitting and so few monthly crochet.

Combine that with a very good subscription offer and I was floating!

Anyway…

First off, I really like the feel of the magazine. It’s not glossy like others but has really nice smooth covers

And a classic A4(ish) magazine size is always a good choice

There is a distinct uniformity in the layout of the covers but it’s a bit cluttered so your eye jumps about a bit and some of the colour combinations jar a little.

But it all makes for an eye-catching cover!

The inside always has a similar layout too and the colours are more subtle so less eye-catching but more pleasing.

There are always a couple of pages of tidbits, upcoming events, etsy finds, book reviews and the like.

So far, they’ve been ‘decorating’ a certain room each month and they show lovely full pages of pictures before moving on to the patterns.

That’s quite a theme throughout the mag, like having a cover page for the pattern.

It almost seems like a way to bulk out the mag but there are still plenty of patterns to choose from.

There’s also a funny feature at the back, showing pics of old crochet garments – some are actually quite snazzy but others are just dire!

The articles are well written and informative and generally link to a project in the magazine.

As for the patterns themselves…

There seems to be a pretty good mix of accessories, homewares and toys but few garments as yet and nothing substantial for the (grown up) man in your life.

Every month, the mag focuses on one shape, gives the pattern for different sizes and shows you some ideas of what to use it for, along with relevant instructions.

There’s also a motif section, again one a month and some examples of how to use them.

It’s a little disappointing to see patterns reprinted from Crochet Today and there has been one in every issue so far.

I’ve tried out several projects and, to be honest, more than a few have been problematic.

I’ve already posted about my trials with Jane Crowfoot’s egg decorations.

Then when I tried to swatch for the lovely shawl in the latest issue, there is a blatant mistake that I’m hoping is just a typo but still shouldn’t have made it through proofing

And I’m not convinced the right hook size is shown but I suppose with a shawl it doesn’t much matter.

I also have problems with a lot of the photography, some of the pieces have been so badly shot that you can’t get an idea of how nice they really are.

The lovely shawl I mentioned is a prime example.

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This was the picture shown in issue three, advertising the next issue. I instantly fell in love!

But when issue four finally dropped through my letterbox, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t the cover project (looking back through, it’s been the same every month)

I turned straight to the pattern and was vaguely horrified by the photos.

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The styling of the model is okay although I’m not sure about the flashes of pink. But the setting is so wrong and the styling of the shawl itself just makes it look unflattering and, frankly, elderly.

I have my reservations but I still plan on making it and the yarn for the project arrived this morning (that’s a post for another day I think)

Oh and there was another oddity. In issue four is a nice cap sleeve cardi. I was checking the yarn used and there are two colours listed even though only one is shown.

Looking at the pattern, there’s a note that says the colour shown isn’t available in the UK so an alternative has been given as well.

I’ve never come across anything like this and I think it could have been handled a lot better.

So, overall, I do like the mag and some of the patterns are simply must-makes.

But some aspects definitely need tweaking and, to be honest, I expect a bit better from an established craft magazine publisher.

I’ll definitely keep the subscription for a while longer, the last issue in particular has been filled with inspiration (as you can tell by the amount of sticky notes attached!) but I really hope things improve

P.S. You might have noticed the blanket in the background of the pics but don’t get too excited – it’s not finished but has been pressed into service in the hope that it’s inadequacy will induce me to finish it (not looking likely, too much other crochet to play with!)

Oh and UK readers don’t forget episode two of The Great British Sewing Bee tonight at 8pm on BBC!

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The infamous crochet hook case and other crafting disasters

Do you ever have one of those weeks where nothing you attempt seems to go right?

Well mine’s been much longer than a week!

I’m lucky in a way that there’s always so much I want to make. If something goes wrong or gets dull, I can put it aside and work on something else.

It only works for so long though, because said WIP starts looking at me and calling to me and eventually screaming FINISH ME!

The yarn for my crochet cardigan is doing it now…

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself coming to the end of my latest big projects (I’ll try and remember to post about those later) and, it being spring and all, decided to have a tidy up of my unfinished projects as well as working on some smaller stash-busting projects.

Mostly this was a tactic to avoid buying yarn since I’m running a little cash-poor.

So, the list went something like:

  • finish the damn crochet hook case
  • start the front of the cricket jumper
  • start the crochet cardigan
  • try my hand at beaded crochet by making some lovely bracelets
  • do tension swatches for a knitted kimono shrug
  • think about finishing the African Flower Blanket

It may seem like a lot but with Steven away from two weeks, I didn’t want to risk finding myself at a loose end (so to speak)

Obviously the news of my Grandad’s death threw me as well so I was looking forward to being busy.

The cricket jumper and the AFB were pretty low on the list, since they’re both rather repetitive.

Top of the list was the crochet hook case. I’ve been ‘designing’ this for months and struggling with how to finish it off.

I thought I had it sorted but no such luck.

I did what I could but had to leave the glue to set so moved on to something else.

I decided on tension swatches for a lovely kimono shrug pattern (from the One Ball Knits book that Steven gave me for my birthday)

Beaten again! The stocking stitch swatches were fine but trying out the stitch pattern was a disaster.

It’s badly written and isn’t physically possible (I actually have to wonder if the authors are knitters!)

The attempts I did make looked nothing like the pictures and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t (and still can’t) be bothered to work it out.

So, it was on to yet another project.

I thought I’d try the cricket jumper since it was likely to be easy but when I though about it, I realised I’d started it before I lost loads of weight so I’, actually working on a size too big.

To top it off, the notebook I’d used to keep track of row counts and shaping etc had been ‘lost’ in the move.

Once again, I moved on to another project but the jumper was still on my mind.

So when the tension swatches for the crochet cardigan got the better of me, I went back for another look and sorted the problems.

Not the happiest of craft days but I actually really enjoyed an evening of knitting my cricket jumper and now I’m steaming ahead.

More tomorrow

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Lots of time, lots of crochet!

Well, Monday went just as I hoped it would.

My (now ex) boss phoned and was really understanding about everything, I didn’t cry at him and it was a nice clean break.

I’ve been feeling so good since that I know it was the right decision.

And, of course, not only have I got more time to craft but I actually feel like doing it!

I’ve been doing really well with knitting and have greatly enjoyed the pieces I’ve made lately but crochet has been a bit of a disaster!

After a serious bout of knitting, I decided to get started on some of my birthday crochet.

Remember all the goodies I was given? Check them out here.

I’d started work on a tension square using the yarn that Steven bought me so I finished that (and a few more) and decided how to proceed with the cardigan.

It’s a pretty immense project, crocheted in 4ply and made in one piece until the armholes so I started off with somewhere around 240 sts!

As many of you know, the first few rows of crochet can be tricky. You have to get into a rhythm, the work twists and can be difficult to hold.

But I persevered and completed five rows.

Then I tried it around me… there was about 5cms overlapping and the cardi is supposed to be quite snug.

I was gutted and too tired to try and work out how to proceed – make a smaller size, use a smaller hook, scrap it?

So I decided to put it aside and start making a shrug using the soy silk that mum bought me.

I’d already decided to use the sambuca jacket pattern because it’s gorgeous and works up really quickly.

So off I went, following the same size instructions that I used for my jacket.

But the yarn is a lot different than the Twinkle. I tried it on to see how much longer it needed to be and the armholes were too tight.

So I ripped it out and started making the larger size (which uses a smaller hook). Again, tried it on to check the length and it was still too tight.

I’m trying again, using the larger hook and the larger size instructions and it’s working beautifully!

Hopefully,I’ll get it finished tonight so I can post some pictures.

And I promise I’ll get started on the catch-up posts soon.

Now I’m off to watch some brilliant telly (Syfy are showing Star Trek TNG series one!), work on the shrug and try not to nap… until later

Happy crafting!

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Singing the praises of Wools Worldwide

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while but, with the move and everything, I keep forgetting.

So, you all know about my recent yarn issues.

But I never told you about the resolution to the problems.

I managed to find a website that had more than one ball of the elusive blue and put in an order on a Tuesday night.

On the Wednesday morning, I had a call to say that they only had two balls of the yarn and asking how I wanted to proceed.

The lady was really lovely and very helpful and we decided on keeping the order at two balls of blue and three of brown and getting a refund on the other.

The refund was put straight through and the lady said the order would be posted that day.

On the Thursday, I had an undelivered parcel which I picked up on the Friday.

Imagine my surprise, expecting it to be a wheel for Steven’s car, to discover it was my yarn!!

I was quite wary about ordering from a company that I hadn’t even heard of but I most heartily recommend them. And I think they do international delivery too

You should definitely check them out – www.woolsworldwide.co.uk

Also, check out these ball bands, it’s no wonder I struggled to find it!

 

This is the band for the blue, even on it’s own it looks a bit dated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare it to the others and you can see the issue.

Still, it’s been an adventure (now all I need to do is finish the blanket!)

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Apologies, stress and planned posts!

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted! I’m so so sorry

The main reason for my absence is my big news which I was trying not to break until we were sure…

Ready?

Steven and I have found a beautiful flat and will be moving out together in less than a week!!

Okay, so it’s not the most exciting piece of news but it brings me one step closer to my dream and I couldn’t be happier.

Or more stressed. There is SO much packing to be done, I literally cannot think about it all or my head starts to hurt and I need a lie down (or I whimper a little and go out for coffee)

It also means I’ve been working furiously, when not packing, to finish our African Flower Blanket (AFB) ready for moving day.

It has been vaguely disastrous and I’m so upset. Firstly, the blanket was supposed to be made up of six rows of four motifs.

Fine, but it was looking a little small. No problem, we’ll just do more rows, sorted.

Then I ran out of brown. Again, no major problem, trip to Woodbridge, buy more brown.

Then I ran out of blue (while crocheting the sixth motif of the fourth row)… Big problem! Now that I’m not working, I can’t afford to just pop out to Woodbridge whenever I fancy so I had to wait, and wait, and wait.

When I finally got a trip out last week, I couldn’t get the yarn I needed from the shop that I usually buy from.

Worse, the lady checked the colour chart and my particular blue was nowhere to be seen!

That shop is the only one in the area that I know sells Sirdar Supersoft Aran (my yarn of choice) but I looked around anyway and was constantly disappointed.

Amongst all this upset, I finished the baby blanket for Clare!

Great news, except that now I also needed the yarn to make the hat and cardi set for her little girl.

It’s supposed to be made from Sirdar Snuggly 4ply, which I love but the colours aren’t great. I want something quite dark and rich so that the pattern will stand out.

Unfortunately, my favourite yarn shop in Woodbridge only stocks ‘baby’ 4ply yarns so no luck there.

Which left me project-less! In my highly stressed state, you can imagine what this meant for my nearest and dearest…

So, I’ve been filling in with some xmas crafting until things settle down again.

I went to Ipswich today (not a random trip, my Nanna needed some things and I’m still shopping for the flat), my main task was to scour the shops for my Aran.

Still no luck, a couple of shops carry it but not the colour I need.

Worse, I’d been looking for the ball band so I know what colour to look for and it was lost amongst the massive yarn stash pile (the result of several small piles being, well, piled up)

Again, a very nice lady in one of the shops checked the current colour chart as well as an old colour chart and, again, no blue for Vix

When I eventually got home, I tore apart the various piles, looking for the missing ball band.

At last, success! But my hopes were dashed again when we did a quick eBay search and found nothing in that colour (shade 892, Peeka Blue by the way)

But I’m nothing if not stubborn so, when we got back to Steven’s (there’s no room for us at mine anymore – too many boxes), I scoured the internet looking for the elusive yarn.

I found mention of it on the big sites but all said ‘unavailable’. Some of the smaller sites had a single ball left, which is hardly worth the effort or the postage costs but one (previously unknown) site claims to have plenty.

So, I have ordered THREE balls of the elusive Peeka Blue as well as two more balls of the brown (also discontinued but easier to get) from… Wools Worldwide

While hunting for the ball band, I’d told Steven about the colour chart issues and wondered how long the lady in the first shop had had the yarn before I came along.

Looking at the ball bands, it’s obviously much older than the others, so there’s my answer!

So, let that be a warning to me… and you

I fear more apologies are required after that epic story but I hope it made you laugh or feel better about your own crafting disasters or inspired some emotion.

Now for the fun part – catching up with friends!

Obviously, there will be a series of ‘new flat’ posts to come but I’ll probably do before and after when it’s all cosy

I’ll also be posting pics of the baby blanket, as well as updates on xmas projects and the hat and cardi (if I ever find the right yarn) and all the usual stuff along the way.

And, of course, there will be updates on the elusive blue yarn and the AFB (cross your fingers for me!)

So, keep an eye out for more posts in the coming days and please, please forgive my absence?

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More detachable collars – finished!

I’m a little obsessed with detachable collars at the moment and I’ve got lots of different patterns to work from.

I’ve already blogged about my ‘vintage’ collar and I’m hoping to start on another one of those soon

I’ve also finished two crochet collars from the pattern on LuluLoves

The first is made from some left-over coral Kon Tiki (I can’t find it on the website any more so I guess it’s been discontinued…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, I altered it slightly so it was a bit longer but it’s a really lovely pattern and super quick to crochet up

 

 

 

 

The other is a wool or wool-blend yarn (I can’t remember what it’s called) that I bought years ago to make some dinky accessories (covered bangles I think)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stitch definition isn’t quite as good as the cotton-blend yarn (of course) but I still think it looks really lovely and I love the variegation of the yarn

Again, I plan to make some more of these, they crochet up in a couple of hours so they’re perfect for fillers-in

I’ve also got some more patterns for knitted collars (from the latest issue of Simply Knitting – August, issue 96) but they haven’t worked out so well so far

I tried out the lacy collar first, in a teal yarn to match a knitted jumper, but it ended up far too small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s knitted in two halves but even so, it would never have fit so I ripped it out to start again

I also wasn’t keen on the edge when I’d finished, it was supposed to be curved but looks too straight and a little messy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the plan now is to make up a couple of other collars while figuring out how to make this one bigger and a bit neater for my tastes.

It shouldn’t be too hard… maybe I’ll come up with a completely new pattern of my own

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‘Vintage’ Lacy Collar – finished!

I fell in love with this pattern as soon as I first discovered the book Knitting Vintage so, of course, it was the first thing I made when I eventually bought the book.

However, my first attempt wasn’t quite right. I’d decided to use 4-ply instead of DK mostly because I had so much left over from my Tuxedo Vest but I was also interested in a nicely delicate collar.

I think it looks great, even before blocking really and I love the button!

Unfortunately, it was far too tight and felt uncomfortable as well as looking very bad.

Before giving up on this one entirely, I decided to try and fix it. However, it sat waiting for said fix for a while before I finally got around to it

I decided the easiest way was simply to knit another scallop, add the garter stitch border and attach it to the existing collar, moving the button in the process.

And here it is (unblocked!)

I have to say, I think the join looks pretty damn good (especially considering it will probably be worn with the button at the back)

So, after blocking (possibly the first project I’ve ever blocked properly) it looks like this

I still think the join looks good and the edges have lost their distorting ruffle but the blocking actually brought to light a problem I hadn’t anticipated

Do you see it? The additional scallop is, for some inexplicable reason, smaller than the others

I have to say, though, I don’t care! I love this little gem and cannot wait to wear it!

Here’s a close up of the scallop detail

Love it, love it, love it! I will definitely be making more and I have a lovely pattern for a crochet collar (courtesy of Lulu Loves) and a few more patterns for plainer knitted collars from this months Simply Knitting

I’ll try not to make too many… no promises though!

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