Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Simple Bold Babies Blanket + Pattern

I am really excited about the arrival of the new twins. Not just because new arrivals are exciting in themselves but these 2 new little boys when they arrive are my first new blood relatives and I will be their half aunty. I don't feel I can say full auntie as I am the half long lost sister of my biological brother. Yeah all this adoption stuff is confusing.
Anyhoo... I was going to make a quilt from my stash of vintage seersucker when I first found out my brothers partner was pregnant.
But then they let everyone know it was twins...ok so 2 quilts thats cool....but then it was 2 boys.
Ok, that threw a bit of a spanner in the works as my seersucker was a decidedly girly stash of fabrics.
I ummed and ahhed about a few other ideas and rummaged in my stash. Played with some stuff but just wasn't feeling it. Even whipped together a pile of 1960s 4 patch blocks into 2 cot quilt sized tops but again, it just wasn't working for me, also just because I like vintage doesn't mean everyone else does. Sometimes you need to take into account the recipients decor etc. I opted to go for something a bit more modern so I went back into the store room, rummaged in boxes of yarn and came up with these blankets.
The design has been dictated by what colours and quantity of yarn I had on hand. I am trying to only use what I have I my stash for everything over the next year as I HAVE WAY TOO MUCH STUFF.

This is the pattern. I made 2 blankets in the same pattern but with different colours and shared the contrast across the 2 blankets. Its for twins so one can be green the other yellow but they have the same tie in. Both approx 42 x 54 inches each.

The yarn I used was a chunky/bulky weight cotton/acrylic in 100 gram balls from Katia but this yarn is from a long time ago over 15 years. I think I got it originally to make a blanket when I was living up north and it was warm at night. Not sure what is around these days, but a cotton acrylic blend chunky weight yarn is great for kids stuff as its machine washable and light even though its thick yarn.
You could also use 2 strands of DK/8ply together and there are plenty of cotton blends on the market in that weight in good colours.

Colour Way 1
2 1/2 Mid Blue
2 Balls Aqua
2 Balls Green
1/2 Ball Navy
1/2 Ball Ecru

Colour Way 2
2 1/2 Balls Mid Blue
2 Balls Aqua
2 Balls Yellow
1/2 Ball Navy
1/2 Ball Ecru

Abbreviations I use:
K -Knit
P - Purl
YO - Yarn Over
R2D2 - This is what I call my ridged stitch. Slip 2 stitches Together Knit wise. Knit one, pass the 2 slipped stitches over and this makes the Ridge.
ES - Edge Stitch. I slip one stitch Purl wise at the start of a Knit row and Slip one stitch Knit wise at the start of a Purl row.
SSK, Slip, Slip, Knit
K2T - Knit 2 together

7mm Needles - I used a long circular needle.
Tension isn't really an issue with this pattern, just knit it then wet block it to a good size for a cot.

Cast on in Colour 1 - 99 Stitches using the long tail method cast on.
I prefer this cast on as it gives a really nice edge.
Good Tutorial here on this method.

Set up your pattern:
ES 1, SSK, K 10, (YO, K 1, YO, K 10, R2D2, K10) to last 14 stitches, YO, K1, YO, Knit 10, K2T, K1.
Row 2 - ES 1, PURL all stitches taking care to purl all your YO's into the front of the loop on the needle.
These 2 rows make up your pattern. Repeat.

Yarn Over, Knit One, Yarn Over (YO, K1, YO)


Pattern Colour Rows:
I knit 24 rows each colour as that is what I got out of each ball. Knit til your ball runs out?
Colour 1 - 24 rows pattern
Colour 2 - 24 rows pattern
Colour 3 - 24 rows pattern
Repeat one more time

Contrast 4 Knit 2 rows pattern
Contrast 5 Knit 2 rows pattern
Repeat 5 times
Contrast 4 Knit 2 rows pattern

Colour 1 Knit 4 Rows Pattern
Cast off loosely.

Stitch all your ends in.
Wet Block with blocking wires giving the blanket a good stretch across to approx 40 to 42 inches wide.

Colour Suggestions for girls:
Red, Orange, Pink with Purple and Ecru Contrast
Yellow, Aqua, Pink with Blue and White Contrast

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Urge to Purge...

Since moving my business to a new studio I have had loads of stuff to sort out. (kind of an embarrassing amount of stuff)
My original studio was also a building we used for storage before it was opened up so we had boxes of things stored there as well as we traveled so often.
We have been renovating and trying to sort things out for the house and I have been sorting stock piles of things out of the studio.
My thought process on this all was if I couldn't re-use it, re-work it, find a new home or good use for it, it had to go.

I have given away a good two thirds of my clothes. And it was funny as the ones I said goodbye to were all the freebies and samples I had from working in the clothing industry. They were not the best quality and many had after a few washes become a bit saggy, faded or just looked tired. A really sad state of the quality of clothing made for the Australian market. So off they went to the op shop or I sold the better overseas samples on ebay. The clothes I have kept are ones I have bought or made myself that are good fabrics and fits that are for my style of dressing quite timeless. Mind you I do live in jeans and t-shirts but they are good jeans and good quality t-shirts.
I have jeans from a European brand that I have worn consistently for 3 years that still look great compared to ones from here that died in a few months...thats another blog post....

So I have been re-thinking so much of my 'stuff'.

All my piles of little scraps went into my postage stamp quilt. That emptied 3 archive boxes.

I re-purposed some cutter quilts for our new arrival of Fritz the rescue greyhound. A quilt coat and doggy bedding. I also cut up a queen size futon we used to have for the back of our old Defender 4 WD that we took camping into some dog bed loungers.

Emptying box after box of quilts, tops and other odds and ends I have stock piled away for a rainy day I had to start making some decisions. Keep, fix or let go.
I have consolidated down sets of blocks I said I would stitch together and finish off but have listed them for sale for someone else to enjoy. My old timber fruit boxes have been turned into display boxes for all my pre-cuts. If unpack something and if its to stay it needs to have a purpose.
I've even found ways of reworking shoes.
I did a chop on a pair of boots that were the wrong length for me into ankle boots and a pair of sandals with ties made out of left over scrappy binding I had made into a ball of braid for gift wrap ties.

I have aired the quilts, mended patches and worked out what to do with some around the house. I have made 2 doona covers and pillow cases out of antique linen damask table cloths - THESE ARE DIVINE to sleep in. So gave everything else but the Sheridan to the opshop.
But my favorite solution was to make a slip cover for our timber bed head from a vintage quilt. It was easy and I didn't cut the quilt so if I don't like it anymore I just take out the hand stitches I made into the binding I turned int to place.
I have been knitting like a crazy person getting through piles of yarn. Fritz got a coat and a snood. I have a few jumpers and scarves and I am knitting some blankets for my new twin nephews. So I am on a bit of a rampage. All this from 'stuff' I had on hand in my stash. I have been designing with what there is to make the best use of it. It's a good challenge for the brain.

I am feeling lighter that I don't have so much stuff weighing me down. We have cleared out so much in the house that you hear a slight echo through the floor boards. There is even a 'spare' room again. I am feeling a sense of achievement that I have been able to get on top of all this. It's weird when I was working all the time I didn't have the time to do all this. Now that I have taken a step back from commercial design work I have the mental space to clear out all this clutter that was piling up as I was too busy to think about it....also too busy to make better choices about things.

I feel good, happy and some of my creative mojo is returning after feeling quite burnt out by commercial work. Also that I have been able to do so much with the 'stuff' and others have scored in the process. I have also looked at out consumption of 'stuff' and we have curbed and rethought so many things. We were always quality over quantity people but now we are thinking even more carefully about everything that is brought into our home. It's amazing how often I have said in the past few months - we don't need this. I don't need this. It's good to let go.