Sunday, 21 April 2013

Fancy a cuppa?

Hi There

When I started knitting, I wanted to make everything all at once. I wanted to be really good at knitting really quickly. But as all knitters know, good knitting takes a lot of patience and a lot of skill that can only be learnt over time. One of the things I attempted and failed as a beginner was a tea cosy. It sounds such a silly thing really, wanting to make tea cosies, I mean it is 2013 now and these things are usually associated with Grannies. But I have noticed from my constant buying of knitting books and ramblings on Twitter that tea cosies are back in fashion. Everyone wants to create that vintage look in their home, and most people now have a tea pot and use them in their home. So as a homage to the past and because after 18 months of knitting I should be able to, I tackled the tea cosy.

I have been trying to use up the odds and ends of my stash of wool as I have so many unopened and unused yarns that I hoarded and then forgot about. And I had this yarn that I had bought to try and knit socks (still a challenge!). It can only be described as Rainbow wool as it is a self patterning wool in red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue (I couldn't help myself!). So I started with this forgotten but beautiful yarn and started to make a tea cosy from a book I found in a clearance sale called 'Knit Two Together' by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark.

I have fallen in love with this book some what, as it has some really kitsch patterns as well as decorative patterns for the home and clothing and accessories and the patterns are explained really simply. As well as stories and anecdotes about their knitting.

The Tea cosy I chose is a 'Tu-Tu Tea cosy' as it has frills running across it. The frills in the pattern are meant to be made using mohair, so that they are thinner and lighter, but as I was recycling wool and not buying I decided to use some of the colours I had left. I chose some block colours reflecting some of the colours in the body of the cosy, so it looked really bright. The pattern itself was so simple I was surprised I hadn't succeeded last time and I really enjoyed making it. On its own it isn't as decorative as some of the intarsia tea cosies I have seen or the big chunky cable knitted ones. But the frills and the colours gave it the personality I was after. This pattern knits the cosy on 2 needles and doesn't stitch the back seam. You leave it open like an apron and make an i-cord to tie it together at the top. I made the Tu-Tu one from the book and loved it so much I kept it for myself which is rare for me to do as I always tend to give the things I make away as presents.

I altered the pattern as well to get different looks and had a month of making cosies. One I made for a friends birthday. Which was the same basic pattern but no frills instead I sewed lots of different buttons on it to give it a vintage style and it was made in a blue Twinkle wool which had sparkles in it. The second I made for my Mum for Mother's Day and I made it in a rich purple and decorated with pom poms (my favourite thing to make). It had a really fun look and looked really different. (I have no pictures if these two cosies I'm afraid, you will have to take my word for it that they looked nice!) The third was made in a chunkier blue wool left over from my jumper I made in earlier posts and I made some knitted flowers to decorate it and those are shown below, I found some tiny pastel buttons which I decorated the centre of the flowers with. This was for my Mother-in-Law's new country kitchen.

So I did it, I conquered the basic tea cosy. I have so many ideas now buzzing round my mind for different tea cosies as they are so quick and easy to make. I am really happy with all of the very different cosies I have made and will no doubt be making them in the future and am now firmly on team Tea! Tea will never go cold again!!

Lots of love

Monday, 1 April 2013

Cosy Warm Easter Bunnies

Hi there!
It is Spring...if the weather would allow it to be and it has also just been Easter. I love Easter. It always reminds me if a trip I took with my family a few years ago to Belgium. We were going to see Battlefields and the graves if our ancestors but we also stayed in a beautiful vintage hotel in Ypres and it was Easter and Ypres were celebrating it big style. Belgium is an extremely under rated holiday destination. It has a lot of history, beautiful buildings and amazing food and truly the best chocolate. But also boy do they know how to do Easter!
Easter is everywhere and before it became big over here to put up little Easter Trees and decorate the home with chicks and rabbits, Belgium had mastered it. My Mum was the most inspired and emulates this every Easter, with decorations in every room and bowls of chocolate eggs to nibble on. Easter is always special to me, I bought my own Easter tree a couple of years ago and have tiny paper eggs to place on it, the spring colours are so lovely and cheery. I really think Easter is an undervalued holiday and the decorations you can get can be really lovely and make a really big impact.
This year I was seeing my friends before Easter and I wanted to give them an Easter Present. I have been buying Knitting magazines a lot at the moment, 1) because you can get some very useful free gifts like cable needles and stitch holders (I live a free gift!) 2) because there are some lovely quick and easy patterns to keep from very talented knitters and designers. My favourite at the moment is Simply Knitting but I also like Mollie Makes and Knit Now.
In Simply Knitting they had an entire Easter Knitting segment full of tiny.Easter eggs for Easter trees and egg cosies a plenty. I found a pattern for bunny egg cosies knitted in the round. As some of my previous readers may know one of my New Years Resolutions was to master Knitting in the round and these small bunny egg cosies were perfect for me to try and complete!
I started with a multicoloured baby wool in Spring Pastels and learnt to cast on through a YouTube video. (Got to love YouTube!). The pattern asked for 28 stitches but as my needles were slightly smaller than the pattern asked for I cast on 30, 10 on each needle. Then remembering the words of my knitting teacher 'Don't twist your stitches! The first round is hard enough without twisting the stitches!' I began to knit in the round properly for the first time.
The first 2 row were hard, they are in Moss stitch (1K: K1, P1 2P: P1, K1) but after that I was on a roll and knitting in the round isn't too bad. In a way it is easier than knitting on 2 needles as you just knit the rows and get stocking stitch without alternating Knit and Purl, and there are no ends to knit together no seams, just a knitted round tube. The bunnies have 6 rows of Moss stitch and then 7-28 rows is knitted. Then you cast off using Kitchener stitch and make i-cords 5 stitches wide for ears. Tie some of the wool over the ears to cross them over and darn on a little twitchy bunny face. I also had some stick on ribbon bows so put these on too for a bow tie.
I made 6 for my friends and used lots of ends of wool I had in my bag to make different bunnies. Each one was unique and had a charm of its own.
I was really happy with the effect and put chocolate eggs in each one and presented them in an egg box which raised some laughs as I did give the bunnies to them during cocktail hour! I am really pleased with the egg cosies and feel like I have done my little bit back to celebrate Easter the Belgium way as well as completing one of my resolutions!
Happy Easter everyone!!
Lots of love