Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Simple Knitting Patterns for Hand-dyed Lace Yarn

Have you ever wondered what to do with your stashed skeins of lush hand-dyed lace yarn? It can be tricky to find patterns that are interesting and yet simple enough to let the colours come through without obscuring the patterning. I've selected three free patterns that work well with yarns like these.

1. If you don't like working a lacy pattern, the Unisex Seeded Rib Scarf is great to let your yarn shine. The seed stitch section will bring out the colours in a way that's different from the stockinette section. Simple, easy and interesting.

2. If you do like lace patterns, why not try this Easy Lace Stole? The regular patterning will suit semisolid colourways or yarn containing shades of similar colours such as pink, red and purple or turquoise, blue and green. Or if you like it really colourful, take the wildest combination you can find!

3. Finally, this is a beautiful pattern: plain, but with interesting detail nonetheless. The holes are what drew me to the Holey Square Shawl, but if you want to liven it up a bit, using some beautifully hand-dyed yarn would be perfect.

What do you like to knit with hand-dyed yarns? Which colour combinations work best for you?

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Inspiration for Knitting With Beads

1. Let's start small. Why should knitting only be about jumpers, socks and shawls? There are so many fun toys to knit! And add a few beads into the mix while you're at it. This doughnut patterns is a quick and fun knit and the beads just make it even sweeter. Like all patterns featured here today, the doughnut is free (and free from calories too).

2. Ice Queen is a beautiful lace project I've had on my to-do list for ages. I even spun a fine single-ply lace for it and I'm sure I can find some suitable beads for it too. The question is just - when will I finally cast on?

3. Now, this pattern comes with a warning: if you haven't got the patience to deal with a lot of charts, this is not for you. I found Kleine Bachforelle to be an infuriating pattern to work with, but it is so beautiful! Needless to say, I haven't yet finished it. Somehow I seem to have a thing for fish in knitting, so of course I haven't given up on this pattern yet. There are beads running along with the fish and all throughout the edging at the beginning and end of the scarf. It is a long term work in progress, I can tell ya!

4. So now for something a little different. Knitting with beads is one thing, but have you ever knitted with wire? Check out Venezia, a step-by-step pattern that's perfect for knitting a neat and unusual wire napkin ring. if you have any spare beads, this is a great project to use up any odd leftover ones.

Have you knitted with beads before? What's your favourite project?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Owling Washcloth

I am not usually a fan of cotton yarns, but I won three skeins in a competition at Simply Homemade a while back that I used to knit a few things already. I still have quite a bit of it left and thought it is a great opportunity to replace some of my old knitted flannels (washcloths to American readers).
Coincidentally, a friend on Ravelry was busily tempting people with all sorts of flannel patterns and she actually sent me one as a present. Owling is an easy pattern to knit within a day. My yarn is much thinner than the one specified in the pattern instructions and I used 3.25 mm needles to get a thinner flannel. It is very soft and feels great when I use it to wash my face. I now hope to replace some of my old knitted flannels with more of these. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

How to Knit With Beads

If you've never knitted with beads before, I definitely recommend it. Not only does it accentuate the pattern, but it also adds a nice drape due to the extra weight. (However, beware of beads that are too heavy or of too many beads all at once: they may distort your knits and drag them down.) There are a number of ways to use beads and I thought I'd share two of them with you today.

1. Crochet hook method
My favourite method is to use a 1mm or 1.5 mm crochet hook to place each needle onto a stitch. This can interrupt your knitting process when you're in the flow because it means putting down your needles and using the crochet hook instead. However, I like it because it is quick and easy and does not involve any prep work.

When I reach the stitch that's meant to have a bead, I place one bead on my crochet hook, grasp the stitch with the hook and slide the bead down onto the stitch. Done! This video tutorial from KnitPicks is a great visual demonstration:
2. Stringing method
Of course you can also thread the required number of beads onto your yarn before casting on. be sure you have the correct number though! Once you have knitted to the stitch that needs a bead, simply slip the bead towards the stitch and knit this stitch so that the bead is trapped in the knitting. The one drawback is that the bead may slip behind the work and end up on the wrong side, so the slipped stitch method is more suitable. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's another helpful video showing both versions of the stringing method:
I hope this has helped to take some of the fear out of knitting with beads . Trust me, you can do it! When I worked on my first lace shawl, I was mad enough to add beads as well even though they were optional. I still love the way it looks.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Finished iPad Mini Cover

Having finished knitting the fish pattern for my iPad mini cover, all that was left to do was the lining and deciding on a way to fasten the top so that the iPad wouldn't slide out. Of course I procrastinated again - when it comes to sewing by hand, I try to put it off till it can no longer wait. How I wish I had a sewing machine (and space for it)!
Taking a look at my stash, I decided on a grey floral fabric from Scandinavia (no, not IKEA) for the lining. Even though I had considered adding batting to  cushion the iPad, I finally decided against it because the knitting seems to be protection enough for everyday use. I sewed everything by hand, which makes it look a little crooked at the top where I sewed the knitting to the fabric, but it does the job.
Finally, the fastening was a real issue at first because I didn't really want to use buttons and I have no velcro. Considering how many odd buttons are in my sewing jar right now though, I did go for the button solution. I made a loop to slip around it - a simple solution, but fun to make using this tutorial. Here is a video tutorial if you prefer to see how it's done:

So that's it! I've got a protective cover made from materials I had in my stash already. No need to spend money on an expensive cover for now. Mine isn't perfect, but it does the job and it's handmade too.