Today I’m Making… a duck a day

Last year me and another local woman took over the admin of a Facebook page for local knitter and crocheters when the owner decided she wanted to step down.  We changed it to include all crafts and if you’re interested and close to Fleet in Hampshire you’ll find us here.

It has been fantastic, we have set up meet ups on Sunday afternoons, Friday evenings and now one of the members has started one on Wednesday afternoons too. We’ve just over 100 members and we also have impromptu meet-ups and excursions.As well as an excuse to eat cake and craft in public we support charities as a group.  We’ve just finished making hats for Innocent Smoothies’ The Big Knit (119 hats between us) and our official charity for this year is Project Linus.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t jump in when help is needed!  A local young girl has done something fantastic, she decided to make 200+ ducklings that hold a Creme Egg and sell them for a charity that is close to her family’s hearts – Great Ormand Street Hospital.  Anyway if that wasn’t enough she contacted all the local supermarkets and they’ve all offered her creme eggs as a donation.  How great is that? She’s 11.

So one of the supermarkets has promised her the whole 200 eggs so now she’s got the potential to sell an awful lot of them, but its a lot of knitting for her to do on her own so our group is going to pitch in and make some for her.  This is my first one.  I really liked knitting it, it was such an easy and cute knit so I’m going to aim for making one duck a day until the deadline in mid February.  I’m so impressed with her, what a great girl to take on something like this and and to do it so well too.

When she has confirmation of the date she’s selling them I’ll let you know, and if you’re nearby please drop by and buy one. They’ll need good homes.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.

 

Today I’m Making – Lurgy blanket (no-sew blanket update)

I have the galloping lurgy. I’ve had it since Monday and I’m hoping this is my last day of it because frankly I’m fed up with not being able to do anything.  Everything I do totally wipes me out including standing up long enough to make a Lemsip.

I know I’m really ill when I can’t even concentrate on knitting. I’ve been up since six today (its nearly half ten now) and I’ve managed to knit 2 rows. (About 120 stitches).

I have far too many projects on the go at once but I like working on whatever I’m in the mood for so today’s project is my lurgy blanket.  Its a big lap blanket for when you’re not feeling well or just need a big snuggle.  I’m making it predominantly in white DK with scraps of grey DK so it will take quite a long time to finish because it does really depend on me knitting grey things and not using up all the yarn.  I’ve written about this blanket before, so this post is really an update on my No-Sew Blanket post from  a year ago.

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Yeah so no great progress…. I’ve added probably a couple of squares since then so this could take a while.  Let’s set a deadline of finishing sometime in my lifetime. A literal deadline.

Happy? I will be if I finish this

With the weather finally turning autumny in the UK its surely time to crack on with this scarf, except it’s not a scarf really is it, it’s a shawl. We don’t really make traditional long scarves anymore do we? I’m going to ditch shawl knitting and get back into scarves.

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After this one though of course. This is the third project I’ve attempted with the ironically named Wendy Happy self-striping sock yarn.  This yarn has not made me at all happy, its quite nice to knit with until you hit all the joins.  Now I know its supposed to be acceptable to find knots in your yarn these days but it bloody isn’t when there are a ton of them and there has been no attempt to join the yarn with the right colour.  Actually I don’t think it is acceptable to find joins in a ball of yarn at all let alone several of them.

Anyway I’m wandering off the track.  I pulled back the socks because it was absolutely lousy as a sock yarn but I think it will be fine for a shawl.  I went for a very forgiving easy shawl pattern – Knit Night by Louise Zass-Bangham.  LZ-B is one of my favourite knitting designers because her patterns are so simple they’re great for showing off nice yarn.  img_0989

Course that was went wrong, because this isn’t nice yarn is it? I think a self striping yarn worked against the pattern so I pulled this one back too.  Its not been going well has it?

The longer the rows got the less well the garter stitch stripes worked. So I started again using the Knit Night pattern as a basis to do something a bit different.  I’ve added purl to lessen the colour clash and when that got boring I started adding in some randomly placed eyelets.  I am placing them randomly because I like the effect of a shawl looking a bit like a Victorian heirloom full of moth holes.  Its quite hard to explain a random pattern but here goes…img_0990

I purl when I’m on a wrong side row and the row below is a different colour to the one I’m knitting with (otherwise its all garter stitch).  Eyelets can only go in on a right side row (always garter stitch) and they can only go in when the row below was purl of the same colour as you’re currently knitting with and only when a car passes my flat if I’m 10sts or more into the row.

I really like it. I might try to make my own pattern with my random techniques. I might.

Pesky rip-off merchants

Here’s one for the designer-makers. Let me tell you a story I’m sure you’ll find familiar.

Once upon a time a creative person driven to the end of their tether by working in dullsville hits on the idea of selling things they’ve made online. The D-M has a marvellous time designing and making gorgeous things and would you believe it, people buy them. The feedback is all fabulous, it makes the D-M’s heart sing every time a sale comes through. If it’s all sounding a bit fairytale take heart that it’s not bringing in enough money to give up dullsville but it makes the D-M very happy and the second income comes in useful even if the tax return stuff is a bit scary.

Things go on like this for a few years and sometimes you sell to other D-Ms. Lovely to have the recognition of your peers and all that. Then you realise one of the other DMs you’ve sold to has miraculously started selling the same item as you, and you realise they bought your item purely to rip it off. Marvellous.  Its quite annoying but as you’re pretty small fry there isn’t really anything you can do about it, legal fees being what they are.

Then it happens again, and its starting to rankle.  You’ve put in all the effort and they’ve sat there watching your good reviews stack up and just thought ‘I’ll have some of that’. I’ve had it done to me in more than one country too.

You know the type, they’ve got some skill, they’ve learned some techniques but they have not one ounce of creativity.  Fine to be an assembler of products if that’s your thing, and its fine to resell but don’t make my thing your shoddy thing.  I can’t do anything constructive about it but I can stick pins up your nose.  Well, I can’t do that either but I can make a pig-faced voodoo doll pincushion and stick pins in that, and that will have to do.  You know what? It does make you feel better. You might not be able to kick the ugly sister out of your patch or turn them into a pumpkin but take heart in the daydream that you’re giving them nosebleeds.

So my latest item will be a voodoo pincushion called She’s No Good, aimed at designer-makers who have been ripped off by talentless trolls. I’ll even start you off with a few pins.

I did have an item ready to go but someone complained that it looked like someone they knew which was unfortunate as I’d drawn a smelly pig-snouted hag (with friends like that…) so I’m currently working on a new version of a smelly looking pig-snouted hag…

Microbeads

 On the news this morning they announced micro-beads will be phased out of production by 2020. I thought we all knew how harmful microbeads are to the environment already? I certainly knew and I’m just some woman somewhere. Canada is looking at adding them to a list of banned toxic substances. California has taken the positive step to ban them from 2020 onwards but elsewhere the target is voluntary and not every company has signed up to it. What I don’t understand is how comes the manufacturers need another 4 years to stop making them though? 

It has got to be more simple than that hasn’t it? I stopped buying products with microbeads in them ages ago when I first learned they were bad and I talked about it at home so my household is micro-bead free. Apparently lots of other people did the same thing according to the news this morning because the sale of products containing microbeads has dropped dramatically. But if one shower using a microbead infused product can release 100,000 of the blighters into the water supply then why aren’t we getting our skates on?

To me it’s obvious, don’t allow the manufacturers to dictate the pace. Of course it is in their interests to make it sound like production has to be phased out over a long time but it isn’t their call really is it? It’s ours. I think we could bring this forward to a matter of months if we put our minds to it with just TWO simple minimal effort steps: 

1. Stop buying products containing microbeads, they might not be described literally as microbeads, they could be on there as tiny capsules of something or as some kind of exfoliating scrub beads but you’ll be able to work it out.

2. Where you do find shops selling products containing microbeads, ask them to stop. It’s up to you how you do this but we all know the power of social media.

I am utterly convinced that if the demand is there from the consumer and the shops’ buyers don’t place orders for these products miraculously manufacturers will manage to end production way in advance of 2020. I think we can do this quick smart and be nice about it too. #banthebead