Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallowe'en! - Free Chart

I've been playing with my charting software again :o) It certainly makes me appreciate even more the work that goes into designing charts, and thankful for those who do it!

If you would like a copy of this chart, please comment below with your email address and I'll get it sent out to you. If you do stitch any of my designs, I'd love to see a picture - and there will be a prize for each one I show on my blog!

Edited to add: If you feel so inclined, a donation to the MS Trust for this chart would be appreciated. Pennies will do - and you can make payment via the link in my sidebar or by clicking here.

This pattern is offered for personal, non-commercial use only. Items made from this pattern may be sold on a small scale basis such as on Etsy or at craft sales. Sales for charity are positively encouraged! This pattern and the text and photos contained within, may not be copied or reproduced for any purpose other than personal use. Please direct people to this blog rather than forwarding the pattern, thank you! Copyright 2009 N M Wray

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Home is Best - Lizzie*Kate

Design: Home is Best
Designer: Lizzie*Kate (a very old freebie)
Threads: DMC Color Variations and DMC

Fabric: 28 count evenweave

I stitched this for Lucy on the Hooked on Exchanges blog - the theme was 'Summer House' and as at the time Lucy's blog was all decked out for the Fourth of July, I thought she might like a piece with the Stars and Stripes - it turned out she did :o)

I backed the pinkeep in blue fabric with little cream hearts in it, and the pins pick up the colours of the threads I used.

Elongated Corded Rib Socks - Charlene Schurch

Design: Elongated Corded Rib Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks
Designer: Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Regia 4 ply Classic Color, 5025 Papillon

Needles 2.5mm Knit Pro DPNs

I've moved on from plain stocking stitch socks to patterned socks (and back again) but I'm so behind on photos you'll have to take my word for it!

Anyway, I knitted these in my 'patterned' phase from my favourite sock knitting book, Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. Originally, these were going to be for my own use, but the colours just are so not me (I still don't know what I was thinking of when I bought the yarn) that I gifted these to my Ma for her birthday. She seemed a tad underwhelmed when I gave them to her - well, you probably would be too if you'd been given woolly socks in late July! - but has since praised them for their warmth and fit, and has asked for another pair for Christmas ... so, I think they've gone down well in the end :o)

The rib was fairly straightforward and looks pretty without sacrificing elasticity - there's nothing worse than slouchy socks when you don't want them to be slouchy! My Ma has slightly smaller feet than mine, so thanks must go to a friend at my SnB group who not only has the same sized feet as Ma, but was prepared to try the part finished socks on in the pub so that I could calculate when to start the toe decreases!

I think, so far, Regia is my favourite of the easily available sock yarns. It knits beautifully, washes well and although it gets a little felty where it rubs, the yarn colours make it look great - especially the Kaffe Fassett colourways...

Innocent 'The Big Knit' - Smoothies Hats

For the third year, I knitted hats for Innocent Smoothies The Big Knit campaign. These little hats will go on smoothie bottles and for each one sold, Age Concern will receive £0.35. I enjoy making these - this year I decided to experiment with stitch patterns from my various books, and they still took less than half an hour each to make from start to finish. Of course, I had to make some stripey ones too, it just wouldn't be the same without stripey hats!

These use up oddments of acrylic DK from mine and ma's stash. Since starting to make socks and using wool rich yarns for those, I've really moved away from using acrylic, so this puts it to good use.

The total this year was slightly down on last year, but I still made 74 :o)

Here they are, all neatly packed for shipping...

Neat Country Stuff - Homespun Elegance

Design: Neat Country Stuff (plus a bit of inspiration from the Sheep Button Sampler)
Threads: DMC as charted
Embellishments: vintage button and snap from stash
Fabric: 28 count natural linen

This project, because of the colours used, got subtitled 'The Sludge Monster', although my darling Ma used another word beginning with 'S' to describe the colours! I love my Ma,  but she is a bit of a one woman crusade for 'keeping your feet on the ground'...

I started this last year, and really tried to finish it, but there was always something more exciting going on. So, when my Stitch n Bitch group went away for the weekend in August, I packed this with the firm intention of getting it complete! And it worked - my motivation came back, and I only had the last square to do when we returned.I've left the start date on it though, I couldn't face the idea of frogging and restitching!

I love that this sampler contains two of my favourite motifs - beehives and sheep - as well as bunnies and blackbirds, of which I'm also rather fond!

The last square was always going to be more work. I really disliked the charted sheep in the original - I thought it looked more like a pig, so wanted to replace it with something else. The designer had produced a Sheep Sampler, but that sheep was too big for the space... so, out came the graph paper and pencils, and I shrank a sheep, kept the bird from the original, and now I know I genuinely have a unique sampler!

The button used is a vintage one from my tin - it may have come from my gran, but I think it's more likely from a charity shop or car boot sale. The big black snap I used (in place of the four small buttons the chart called for) on the other hand did come from my gran's stash, which I was given when she died. I rather like the idea of having something of hers in a piece that I've worked, as she did treasure the stitching I made for her.

The finished piece is framed now- I found a suitable frame in a charity shop, and my friendly framers stretched the piece and cut a mount to fit at a very reasonable rate. I'll try and remember to take a photo of that one day...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Antique Hearts Needleroll - Shepherd's Bush

Design: Antique Hearts Needleroll
Designer: Shepherd's Bush
Threads: DMC - mostly as charted, beads, lace, ribbon and charm from stash
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, bone

I really like the Shepherd's Bush needlerolls  - and if anyone has charts from these needing a new home, I might be interested in buying or trading! I find them a good way to explore specialty stitches without getting too bogged down in a big project - and they do look attractive in a basket with other smalls.

This was a bit of a 'stash buster' project, as I used decorative pieces from my hoards of such things. I do seem to acquire pretties, and then not use them...

The big task with these needlerolls is the construction - I use a French seam, and I stitch and hem all by hand, it seems to take almost as long as the embroidery itself!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Experimenting with Design - Free Bee Pattern!

I found a version of Jane Greenoff's Cross Stitch Pattern Creator for a quid in a charity shop, and I've been playing around with it. The software is showing its age - ten years old is positively antidiluvian in computer years - and it doesn't do some of the things I'm used to from programs like Photoshop but ... it's fun!

I've managed to convert a little piece of clip art into the design you can see above, plus managed to turn its symbol chart into a PDF format file, so all is well.

If anyone would like a copy of the chart, leave a comment below - including your email address! - and I'll get it over to your inbox. I haven't test stitched it, so there could very well be errors and icks because of the colours, so you may want to treat the suggested colours as just that - suggestions!

Edited to add: If you feel so inclined, a donation to the MS Trust for this chart would be appreciated. Pennies will do - and you can make payment via the link in my sidebar or by clicking here.
This pattern is offered for personal, non-commercial use only. Items made from this pattern may be sold on a small scale basis such as on Etsy or at craft sales. Sales for charity are positively encouraged! This pattern and the text and photos contained within, may not be copied or reproduced for any purpose other than personal use. Please direct people to this blog rather than forwarding the pattern, thank you! Copyright 2009 N M Wray

Hallowe'en Exchange Received

This is the fun exchange I received from Ellen over on Hooked on Exchanges - a little treat bag ornament which has been beautifully stitched and complemented by a candy corn button. The candy corn lollipop I gave to The Hermit - I've just had some dental work done, plus he never gets nice mail :o) - and was declared delicious! The fabric will be great for my Hallowe'en finishes next year - you can't tell from the picture, but the pumpkins are flannel, so nice and fuzzy :o)

The stitched piece is currently taking up residence on my cabinet with the other autumn and Halloween pieces - it looks great!

Thank you again, Ellen!

(and look, I've changed my blog background to Hallowe'en too, to co-ordinate!)

Fall Needleroll from Lucy

Design: Autumn
Designer: Helga Mandl
Stitched over one by Lucy

I struggled to get a good picture of this because it's a needleroll stitched over one and is pretty small - the design goes all the way round, so you're just going to have to guess how gorgeous it is! It was an exchange I received from one of the lovely people over on Hooked on Exchanges recently.

Lucy's stitching is beautiful and I don't believe it's her first needleroll finish :o) I don't have the patience - or the eyesight - to do a complete project 'over one' - so this is especially nice to have.

It's now on my cabinet with my other autumn/Halloween goodies - thank you again, Lucy!


I laughed with pleasure when I found out what poem my knitted 'N' was part of. It's a poem that means quite a lot to me, I studied it for A Level and my renewed passion for literature and language because of this poet's work pushed me towards my degree and all the life changes I've made since... and of course, the title of this blog is from a work by the same poet...

So, without further ado ...

 In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

Copyright Dylan Thomas.

I haven't spotted my letter yet on any of the pictures I've seen so far, but I'm hoping to see it in person when it goes to Manchester. 

Hourglass Dishcloth

Design: Hourglass Dishcloth
Designer: Monthly Dishcloths (pattern free if you join the group)
Yarn: Wendy Supreme Cotton, Prints - Daisy 1904
Needles: 3.75mm

This was a little extra gift for Carol as part of a Hooked on Exchanges exchange - the theme was 'By The Sea' and I thought the colours and texture were quite summery and seaside-y!

The first knitting I ever did - aged 4 - was making a garter stitch dishcloth. It was probably as holey as the one above, but I don't think the holes were deliberate! I was very proud of myself though :o) I'm so grateful I had a mum who taught me to knit, sew and embroider. She also encouraged my passion for books ... but sorry ma, I can't quite get so enthused about housekeeping or genealogy ;o)

Knitters out there - who taught you? How old were you?

Golden Luna Moth Shawl

Design: Luna Moth - Freebie Pattern Available Here
Designer: Elann

Yarn: Golden Mohair Type - found in a charity shop
Needles: 5.5mm-7.5mm

Okay, I'm so far behind in posting my knitting finishes that it's quite embarassing - I finished this on our knitting retreat to York back in March! The picture was taken in the garden of the Youth Hostel there... It was taken preblocking, too, it's grown since then!

This was a pretty quick knit, relatively speaking - I started with 5.5mm needles and increased the size as I did pattern repeats, ending up with 7.5mm needles, so this got to be quite the monster! Add in glowing golden yarn and ... well, it's distinctive, I'll give it that! I haven't worn it much, as it's definitely an autumn/winter wear - and it's currently in the props basket at work, as it was used as 'grannie's shawl' when we performed recently...

The design is fairly straightforward and clearly written. I would do it again, but using smaller needles and a less 'in your face' yarn!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quaker Strawberry - Blackbird Designs

Design: Quaker Strawberry
Designer: Blackbird Designs - taken from the JCS Ornament Issue 2006

Threads: DMC115
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, antique white

I stitched this design for the Hooked on Exchanges Christmas in July Exchange (which shows how far behind I am with my blog posting!). The stitching itself was fairly straightforward, but the finishing was a trifle fiddly.

I followed the instructions for the body of the strawberry itself, although I also backed the piece with iron on interfacing. My fabric was a little small, so it was a question of crossing my fingers and hoping that it didn't fray too much when I gathered the top... The leaves I did differently to the instructions in the magazine, as they are just interfacing backed fabric, no wires. The ornament will hang, but Stacy, the recipient tells me it is going on display as it is.

Here is a little snap of the goodies I added:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Well, I survived my first week of the new semester and working two jobs. In fact, I think increasing my activity is actualy helping me to do more, although I am careful not to overdo things, especially as my cough hasn't gone away - coughing until you're vomiting isn't the best thing to be happening at the moment, but there's nothing that can be done, I don't have an infection so antibiotics would be counter productive.

I spent most of Saturday in this structure:

It's called the Spiegeltent. It's an amazing work of art - painted wooden panels with a glass walledcupola, and canvas domed roof. Inside, it's more painting - and mirrors everywhere! It was all part of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival, for which the company I work for were providing much of the entertainment happening in the Spiegeltent during the day. I had the task of trying to co-ordinate all the artists - not easy when some were late due to a bad accident, and when the changing room (a small marquee) had to be taken down because of the high winds! I had to scrounge space in local shops offices and loos for them to get dressed in...

I've managed to do some crafting - some more little smoothie hats have happened, and I've done the cuffs of one sock for the Through The Loops Mystery Sock KAL. I had to rootle through my stash to find a solid colour yarn, and the only one I found was some bright pink Regia - I don't know what I'd originally planned for this wool (I suspect a pair of cabled socks from the Sensational Knitted Socks book) but it looks good in this new incarnation...

Whilst waiting for the next clue for the KAL, I cast on another pair of socks - yes, I know, but I need something simple to do on my bus journeys round the city! I'm making a plain stocking stitch pair, using some (apparently no longer available) yarn from Opal. It's part of the Harry Potter collection, and the colourway I'm using is Tonks. It's very pretty - and these socks are zooming along, I've been knitting textured socks for a bit, and of course, I'm faster in general than when I first started knitting socks so I'm rather surprised at just how quick these are growing! They'll grow a bit more today - I have a dentist's appointment later so they'll come out in the waiting room!

And finally, before I go, have you seen the wonderful giveaways Annette is having? There are three altogether, but I'm throwing my name into the hat for only two - the stitching giveaway and the knitting one! -fingers crossed ;o)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

September Review and October Goals

These were my goals for September:

  • Friends Through Threads Exchange -DONE - I stitched part of a Mary Garry freebie, and got creative with the finishing...
  • Hooked on Exchanges Fall Needleroll Exchange - DONE. I can't reveal what I stitched, as it hasn't yet arrived, but I loved working on it, and stitched a matching Floss Tag, too!
  • Stitch on one kitted chart - this will be She Gathers, by 4 My Boys - NO, didn't even pull the floss
  • Stitch on one UFO - NO
  • Stitch on one kit - NO
  • Knit more smoothie hats for The Big Knit - YES, I've knitted over 60 little hats now, I'm going to do some more before mailing next week.
  • Work on the New England Stole - YES - I finished this, it's more a wrap than a stole
  • Keep to a stash diet - buying only threads and trims needed for the pieces I'm working on - SORT OF. I didn't buy any stitching stuff, but there was a craft fair last weekend and I got yarn for four more pairs of socks at bargain prices, so ...
I managed also to:

  • Work on my Mini Cable Socks - I'm on the foot of the second one
  • Make Bunny Blanket Buddy 1
  • Make Bunny Blanket Buddy 2
With tiredness and evenings getting darker, I'm knitting more than I'm stitching. A lot more. And I feel guilty about it, which is ridiculous!After all, I could knit before I could sew, and it's not like I'm spending my time vegged out in front of the TV, or getting roaring drunk or terrorising little old ladies ...

My October goals are simple:

Finish the Mini Cable Socks
Start Through The Loops Mystery Sock KAL
Knit more Smoothie Hats
Finish HoE's Hallowe'en Exchange Piece
Finish one UFO
Start one kit

I've just looked at my calendar, and my schedule is stupidly busy - the new semester has started and there's a local arts festival happening which is going to consume a lot of my work time. Oh well, I'm lucky to be in the position of having a job I like, which fits around my study - which I love - and to have the abilities and stash that I do. In the very British phrase ... "mustn't grumble"!