Friday, 4 January 2013

2012: The Uncharted Projects, Part 2....

As you may (or may not) remember, this time last year one of my New Year's resolutions was to learn to knit. I began with a pair of somewhat individual (otherwise known as 'wonky') legwarmers after mastering the knit and purl stiches. After this, my confidence growing gradually, I tried a pair of fingerless gloves and a matching cowl. Both were slightly more successful than the legwarmers which encouraged me to move on to something more complicated...

Being that I am a bit of a nerd (I know, you're all shocked, right?) it was perhaps inevitable that I would seek out nerdy knitting things as I had done with cross-stitch previously (sidebar: I never posted my nerdy cross-stitch did I? Well, suffice to say, it combined a satirisation of a Rene Magritte painting and a certain 80s video game thus satisfying my history of art nerdiness with my love of this particular game...I shall find a picture of it for you!). Anyhow, after doing a bit of googling and a bit of searching in my local bookshop, I found this:
Available from good craft booksellers and Amazon
It includes, as I'm sure you can see from the cover image, patterns for a Princess Leia hat as well as a jumper emulating the Next Generation uniform, Hobbit feet slippers and a laptop cover that is also a chessboard. The pattern that caught my eye, however, was from the all-things-nerdy series, The Big Bang Theory. It is a sweater vest based on the one worn by Penny as part of her work uniform, although I modified the colour as neither the bright yellow of the actual costume nor the baby pink of the pattern are colours I would wear.

I chose this pattern becuase it looked relatively straightforward and would teach me a few new tricks, and that can't be a bad thing, can it? It had the added advantage of teaching me American knitting terms and how to translate them into the British terms that I had been taught whilst learning to knit. A note here, if you purchase this book (and I suggest you do because there are some great projects in there), the author tends to give the brand of wool (yarn) that she used rather than the weight. This can be transalted via a small amount of googling to find the brand of wool, which should tell you the weight of it, which you can then translate into british terms. In the case of this pattern, the Lion Brand Wool Ease translates well to Aran weight wool. I used Patons Colourworks Aran wool in Sunset (Shade #00081).

So way back in April (I think...) I cast on my 72 stitches on a pair of 3.75mm needles and started to knit. The project progressed quite nicely, with only minimal swearing and undoing of stitches, until I started the great commute that ended up lasting 8 months...

So it was put aside for quite a while apart from a brief moment in the summer when the DSM on the show I was working on was also a knitter and we passed the shows by knitting between standbys. It was then put aside for the whole of dark (for you non-theatrical types, this is a period of time with no shows when the theatre undergoes a maintenance period). I only picked it up again when I went to Canada at the start of Septemeber, knowing that I was going to be staying in a household with a knitter and nearby to an extended family of other knitters. I made quite rapid progress whilst there, finishing the back piece and getting up to the point of the neckline shaping by the time I left (with only 1 minor incident involving putting the knitting down to answer the phone, picking it up the wrong way up and being too jetlagged to notice that I was knitting in the wrong direction...essentially un-knitting half of it and making the other half four rows longer...messy).

I had it almost completed by around October when I came up against a problem: picking up stitches. This, for some reason, seemed like a incredibly daunting task. So the vest sat on the shelf under the coffee table, all sewn together and mearly awaiting a rib stitch around the collar and armholes with me staring at it an occasionally picking up the odd stitch. I should perhaps explain what I mean by picking up stitches...its when you create stitches along a finished edge in order to add to it or finish off. After my Gran (who taught me to knit and was staying with me over Christmas) offered several times to pick up my stitiches for me, no doubt thinking it was ridiculous that I hadn't finished it when she'd done 2 jumpers in a similar time frame, I thought I should get off my arse and finish it, because it seems ludicrous to take so long to finish a project that says it 'knits up in a flash'. 

Afraid it would take hours, but nonetheless determined, I picked up the vest and my circular needle...and realised that I'd been overcomplicating it massively. It was not hard to pick up the stitches at all, in fact it was about as easy as casting on, and I could do that! Confidence and stitches increaased, I completed the vest within a day and sewing away the loose ends in no time.

The result (and yes, I know I'm making a silly face...I was just so pleased to finish!):

I'm even considering one in a different colour...and perhaps adapting the pattern slightly...(y'know, adding some imagination...)

2012: The Uncharted Projects: Part 1...

Happy New Year!

When I look and see how long its been since I posted on here, my immediate reaction is to issue a profound apology for being so goddamn useless. My second reaction is to resolve (you know, New Year and all that) to post more often. First though, I think I should catch you up on the missing projects and travels of the last few months so here is the second half of 2012 in thusfar uncharted projects (and travels)...

I suppose my first move should be to update you on the hat that was the subject of my last post. I was made relatively quickly, as I said, during spare time on a show but the decorating, done with bits and pieces from the lovely John Lewis habidashery department, was done at home on the day before the event was due to take place. 

And here is the hat! The base is a royal blue felt over cardboard and it is held in place by a ribbon tied under the hair. Originally it had a small comb sewn into it but the hat proved a little heavy and my hair a little slippery for the comb to be conducive to the hat staying on my head! In addition to the ribbon to hold it on, the decoration consisted of a cluster of buttons on the front covering the join of three pieces of ribbon, handily decorated with union flags and their related colours. On the back of the hat (and, I'll be honest, it was partly to cover a less-than-tidy join in the felt) I put another cluster, this time made up of cherry red and dark red feathers. The finishing touch was a small veil over the left eye which is made of four leaf shaped peices of netting, two each in cream and dark red placed alternately and sewn in under the brim. On the second layer, I sewed in a few pearlised transparent beads to add detail to the veil. If you're wondering how I could see a) its still relatively see through and b) I can't really see in my left eye so it really makes no difference to cover it!

I paired the hat with a union flag dress that I bought for the Jubliee and a large red necklace bought a few years ago from spitalfields market. The hat is worn on one side of the head to accommodate its a-symetry.

And you'll be pleased to know that it was well recieved by the hostess of the event who, true to form, had created some crafty things for her ceremony the most memorable of which was adding a rainbow coloured satin lining to her graduation gown which revealed itself when she twirled across the dancefloor of the Randolph hotel's ballroom.

Late, but still heartfelt, congratulations to her for her achievement and here's to the PhD (and an excuse to make another hat!).