Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop Press!

I can now tell how spaced out I was yesterday - I completely forgot my most exciting news!

My very clever friend Kristina dyes yarn and batts for sale in her shop, Flutterby Creations (including a wonderful range inspired by Discworld characters!). She announced a competition last week on her shop blog, where you could win your own design of yarn. I was thrilled to see I was banned from entering - because she was already designing one in my honour!

It's a gorgeous, springlike blend of yellow, lavender and grey, and you can see it for sale on her site.

Mine is in the post. I am so thrilled :)

Stop, thief!

Merlin is becoming more devious and mischievous with every passing day.

Not content with every knitted case I've made for things in the past year, his mousie, his tassel, and various paper balls, he has become a sneak thief.

Wondering where one of my mascots has gone, I find it under my bed, distinctly soggy, and ragged round the edges.

I sit quietly with my knitting (not often, granted, but I do get the chance sometimes), minding my own business - and a little paw comes snaking onto the table, and steals my notions bag.

I put my knitting down, and a black streak shoots past and disappears with my ball of yarn.

Yarn retrieved, I go to pick up my knitting again - only to find he's had that away, too.

And this week, I have had to transfer my imminent-project yarn from the lovely lavender tote, in which it has sat unmolested for several years (not always the same yarn, I hasten to add - although, come to think of it....), into a zipped holdall, because Someone has discovered he can hop up next to it, and find a huge supply of new woolly balls.

He looked very indignant when I zipped the holdall and stopped his games, but there's a limit to how long I can watch my precious hand-dyed, hand-spun goodies disappearing out of the door and down the corridor, trailing between his scampering feet - and it's about 0.1 of a second.

Poor Merlin. As we say to him countless times a day - 'It's a good job you're cute'....

Bigger Merlin (18 weeks)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scrunchie doll

I'm feeling pretty brain-dead today - I enjoyed a Quaker Meeting for Worship at my home on Sunday, but it wiped me out yesterday (hence the lateness of this entry), and I'm about at the end of my energy today - so I'm giving you another free pattern.

This one is from SlipKnot issue 112 (June 2006), and gives a cute and very kitsch way for little girls to store their hair scrunchies - as a tutu on a little ballerina.

You need some kind of small doll for this - I used an Impkins doll which I bought on eBay.

Although I give a scrunchie pattern here, there are loads online. Try Crochet Pattern Central (always a good source of crochet patterns), or the Ravelry pattern search.

Because there are so many suitable small dolls available, this is more of a guideline than a pattern!

Scrunchie Doll

Scrunchie Doll

You will need a small amount of plain yarn and a scrap of ribbon for the body, and a hair elastic and some eyelash yarn for the scrunchie. Use needles and hooks which are suitable for the yarn you choose.

Using the plain yarn, cast on enough stitches to go around half the body, with a provisional cast on. Work in stocking stitch for length needed to gusset.

Decrease 1 st each end of the next 4 rows, then increase 1 st each end of following 4 rows.

Work up the back straight for the same length as the front, and do not cast off.

Undo the provisional cast on, and thread a thin ribbon through the stitches. Put the strip of knitting in place on the doll, and thread the ribbon through the last row of stitches. Pull up and tie in a bow.

To make a crochet garment, work in double crochet (US - treble crochet), following the instructions above. Thread the yarn through the stitches in the first and last rows.

To make the scrunchie, I used an oddment of eyelash yarn, which makes it very fluffy and full:

UK version:
Round 1: dc closely around the elastic band and sl st closed.
Round 2: (ch4, miss 1 dc, dc into next dc) to end, then (2ch, 1 tr) to close.
Round 3: (ch6, dc in next ch4 loop) to end, (ch6, sl st) to close.

US version:
Round 1: tr closely around the elastic band and sl st closed.
Round 2: (ch4, miss 1 tr, tr into next tr) to end, then (2ch, 1 dtr) to close.
Round 3: (ch6, tr in next ch4 loop) to end, (ch6, sl st) to close.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Well, we certainly know we have another cat!

It's not just the talking, or the thundering down the hall like a herd of elephants, or even the destructiveness - it's his absolutely unshakeable belief that, whatever we are doing, we cannot possibly accomplish it unless he helps. My books all have teeth marks. My yarn has all had to be securely fastened into containers he can't open - and he's already working on zips. I had to abandon half a yoghurt today because I couldn't get my spoon past his head.

He has a fascination for anything knitted. So far he has abducted my inhaler bag (complete with inhaler - we can't find it anywhere), my glasses case and my MP3 player cosy. He throws them around, drags them into a corner, and then growls over them.

I can't knit or crochet, because he drops onto my chest every time I start, and tries to run away with my project. He chews my hair, claws my chin, and makes my arm ache by refusing to sleep in any other position than draped over my elbow.

And you know what?

I wouldn't change him for the world :))

He makes me laugh so much, especially when Richard gets him chasing the laser pointer. He has woken Chloe up and given her a new lease of life - they play together several times a day, and seem to get on amazingly well. And he is the softest, cuddliest kitten I've had apart from Tigger (and let's face it, Tigger was a one-off). He has us wound quite securely around his huge black paw, and he knows it :)

Richard has photos and two video clips at his Flickr site, but this is my favourite:


Merlin says: 'So, let's see - inhaler bag, check; catnip mouse, check; Mum's ability to say no to me, check...'

Monday, March 09, 2009

Extra, extra! - revisited

I wrote on Monday:

I've now got my copy of Simply Knitting 51, and I notice the sizes on Spring Leaves, the lace tunic, have been recalculated. I designed it for sizes 16 to 30, and it's been printed for 12 to 20.

I have no huge problems with this - it's their magazine, they're entitled to edit things to fit in better - but I thought it would be nice to reprint here the original pattern, for larger sizes. For copyright reasons, this is not the entire pattern - you will still need to buy the magazine for the stitch patterns. I don't want to break my contract, just provide some extra information...

It seems I posted a little hastily - what the magazine has done is relabel the sizes, not recalculate them, and so the pattern I published here is actually the same as the one in the magazine.

The editor assures me that the top I supplied as a 16 actually fitted a 12 perfectly, and was too small for a 14. That means that the pattern as written would actually fit the sizes with which the magazine labelled it. What happened I'm not quite sure - but obviously, for some reason, my tension measurements were out. Please take this as an example of the importance of measuring gauge accurately!

Thus I've taken down the pattern. The offer for the lace charts still stands, however, and if anyone would like the pattern in a larger size, let me know and I'll work it out for you.

As a footnote, I have received a pdf from Simply Knitting of my design in issue 53, which will fit bust sizes of 38 to 56 inches, and it looks wonderful. I hope you'll like it too.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Here's the first photo of the darling boy, taken at the foster home. He hasn't stopped moving for long enough for a photo here yet :)

Chloe was mildly interested, and then stalked off in disgust.....

Merlin, just before coming to us

Monday, March 02, 2009

Good news, good news, and more good news!

I had a rotten week last week, for several reasons (including a replacement carer breaking my CD player and lying about it - that's sorted now, though), and I really needed some good news. Well, I've had it, in bucketsful!

First I found out that one of my patterns had been published in Simply Knitting 51 - I don't know where my contributor's copy went, but it will be nice to see it anyway (a kind fellow Raveler is sending me her copy). It's my favourite of the plus-size patterns, a lace tunic in Artesano Alpaca:

Empire line top

The lace pattern is the Beech Leaf lace pattern from Mary Thomas' Book of Knitting Patterns, and the bodice is garter stitch. There's a band of something called Star Stitch, also from Mary Thomas, at the empire line/start of the bodice.

I've also heard that a sleeveless jacket/gilet thing I made in Rowan Tapestry will be featured in issue 53. It's lovely to see all these items finally hitting the pages. I finished them all quite a while ago, but have had to wait for them to fit a theme before I see them in print.

On Friday I finally managed to find a sewing machine on Freecycle. I have been putting in claims for a while, and not being successful, and even putting in my own 'Want' ads hasn't helped. This time, though, I actually had two offers, and I am now the happy owner of a very lovely Jones electric machine - nothing wrong with it that a little cosmetic cleaning won't solve!

And the best news of all - we think we have found our kitten. Chloe has been so clingy and vocal that I finally realised she was actually missing Tigger much more than I thought, so we decided to get a new kitten which would, perhaps, stop her fretting. It took a long time to find one. Now that people spay and neuter their cats (hurrah for responsible pet owners!), there are a lot fewer unwanted kittens around. However, I have just been speaking to an RSPCA foster mum, who wants us to come and see Merlin tomorrow, to see if we like each other.

He is a black Siamese cross, about 12 weeks old, big paws, bat ears, flat nose - and very vocal! He has had his first vaccinations, but is happy to be a house cat (phew - I hated it every time Tigger went out!). He loves other cats, dogs, and especially people, and when he gets tired he snuggles down and sucks his blankie.... (She thinks he was probably taken too early from his mum.)

Richard is going to meet him and, hopefully, fetch him home tomorrow. Photos to follow. Please cross your fingers for us....