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41  Knitting and dying in Knitting: Discussion and Questions by elderflower on: April 25, 2013 11:15:05 PM
This is nothing to do with Madame Defarge but just the story of how knitting helped make our last days with Mum into a truly  special time.  

It turned out to be a very precious two months.  My sisters and I spent some of the time helping her sort out things she wanted to give or throw away before she died.  We told stories, reminisced, laughed, cried.  

And more and more - we knitted.  My youngest sister hadn't knitted for years but started again and got so enthusiastic she finished  a complicated jacket pattern.  

As children we knew that Mum could always make something out of anything and even then, a month before she died,  she started and finished a cotton cardigan for one sister in time for her birthday.
When Mum could no longer knit she was still interested in what we were doing and helping us choose colours and patterns.  My aunt came to stay every week and  would bring what she was knitting for her grandchildren so the two sisters  could sit and chat and share the knitting - or occasionally the unravelling.  Wink

Mum was able to stay at home the whole time, thanks to the amazing National Health Service which  provided everything free of charge, including the community nurses and Macmillans who came several times  a day to help with basic nursing.  

And of course we knitted as we  watched by her bedside at night.  We shared the watching, so that there was always someone with her.  Knitting was a way of staying awake, especially on the 2 am to 8 am shift.  Sitting in a small pool of light in her dark bedroom while she slept peacefully nearby, knitting not only helped to keep me awake but also kept my mind busy as well as my hands and helped me deal with the grief of her gradual decline.

Now a year on she passed peacefully in her sleep in April 2012 I and my siblings are so much closer together  and we keep in touch so much more  - not only to share the knitting that we are doing.  And I have several garments that I made then which will always remind me of a gentle passing and the loving time we had together.

and a knitting bag, made hastily to hold my knitting and which Mum really loved.

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42  Knitting Bag in Needlework: Completed Projects by elderflower on: January 21, 2013 09:24:53 AM

I made this bag for my sister's birthday and since she has now received it I can post it here.

 I couldn't find a pattern for this that I liked so I made my own pattern for the crown and used Mr X Stitch's pattern of Keep Calm and Marry On for the font and altered the bits I needed. 

Here is the complete design before I made it up into a knitting bag.

I couldn't find any handles so my husband made me a pair out of an old piece of plywood and painted them white.  The bag buttons over the handles so they can be removed for washing.

And the thread is DMC's glow-in-the-dark embroidery floss so she can find her knitting bag in a power cut/air raid shelter/ whatever. Roll Eyes

These are the charts I made for the bits of the pattern I had to alter to get the Carry Yarn wording, and the crown if anyone else wants to use them. 

I hope they are legible.  The rest of the pattern is, of course, at the Mr X Stitch link above.
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43  Gift Tags from Christmas Crackers in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by elderflower on: December 26, 2012 06:26:40 AM

We had some pretty Christmas crackers this year and I didn't want to throw them away.  So I cut them up to make gift tags for next year.

First I cut off the ends from the middle part.

Then cut off the remains of the snap and the slot on one end - and trimmed the edges.

I ironed the pieces flat between two pieces of cotton cloth using a dry iron.

I used a similar technique on this little gnome from one other Cracker we had left over from last year.

Then I cut them up into smaller tag sized bits, punched holes and looped some bits of DMC Perle cotton through the holes and I have all the gift tags I need for next Christmas.

Wasn't sure whether this belonged on the Reconstructed Papercrafts board or in Occasions and Holidays so moderators, feel free to move it if necessary.
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44  Re: Utterly butterfly hat in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by elderflower on: December 14, 2012 10:32:51 PM
Thanks everyone for your very encouraging comments. 

There was a competition for the best hat at the Christmas lunch and the butterflies won!

Me with my prize (an embroidery kit to make a pair of tray cloths)
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45  Utterly butterfly hat in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by elderflower on: December 08, 2012 09:41:17 AM
Our Needlecraft Guild Christmas lunch is on Thursday and we all have to wear a hat we have embellished. 

I didn't actually have any suitable hats. I have floppy hats and woolly hats, none of which look very nice, and no amount of embellishment is going to make them so.  I do have a broad-brimmed straw hat, but I'd be liable to put my neighbour's eye out with it if I wore it at a dinner table.  So I made this one using  an old hat pattern that belonged to my Mum (Butterick 3664) and some scraps of black satin and gabardine that I had left over from other projects..

When I started I wasn't sure how I was going to embellish it but then I remembered a flock of butterflies I had crocheted over a year ago and still hadn't found a use for. 

I starched them and fastened them to cable ties of differing lengths which I stitched firmly to the hat. It's not really a practical hat at all but will be a bit of fun to wear for this one occasion.

I haven't any dummy head to model it which is why it was photographed on an upturned bucket.
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46  Matchbox amigurumi lion in CHALLENGE 81 ENTRIES by elderflower on: December 04, 2012 09:47:49 AM
Some months ago I made a little lion out of DMC coton perle  no. 5.  I tried to articulate him but the method I used was unsatisfactory and he turned out extremely floppy.  So I decided to make another lion using the same pattern.

But this time I wanted a lion that would actually fit inside the Lion matchbox - that  I had used in the pictures just to give an idea of scale.

This little chap is made from single strands of Clarks/Coats  Anchor embroidery floss; shade  no. 0302 for the body and 0309 for the mane etc. 
The crochet hook  is the smallest I own.  I do not know what system it is but on the shaft  it says it is Made in England and the size is given as 6   + 25 - whatever that means.
For his neck joint I used two buttons as before only I made these by using a paper punch to cut two small discs out of a plastic ice-cream tub lid.

To articulate his legs  I followed Nerdigurumi's excellent tutorial using electrical wire.    Many thanks to Gramma Joe for pointing me in that direction.

I'm quite happy with how he turned out and especially how posable he is, although he took a lot longer than my first one and the stitches were so small I could only work in broad daylight.  So once he was done I rather vowed "never again",  but I keep thinking of ways I could improve him so maybe I will make another one someday.

He is going in my daughter's Christmas stocking.
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47  Beaded Christmas Cards in Winter Holidays by elderflower on: October 08, 2012 12:42:09 PM

I've been making my Christmas cards again and can't remember if I have already explained how I do them.  The little bead decorations are made by bending wire around a frame of nails that my son made to my direction.
(The stars and trees are made using a frame but the rings were just bent around a suitable tube.)
The nails, outlining the shape to be made, are hammered into a block of wood and the heads cut off.
I use ordinary copper wire from electrical cables because that is readily available.  I strip off the insulation and cut it into 30 cm lengths for the tree.  

One end is clamped to stop the beads from sliding off and then I thread the beads on.  

I do one section at a time and then bend the wire for the next section.  Most of the beads will not go easily around corners which is why you have to do one section at a time before bending the wire around the next pin.  

The wire is soft and doesn't need pliers to bend it. But I do sometimes have to use another clamp to hold the wire down and stop it from springing off the pins.

I try to mix up shapes and sizes as much as possible.

The only rule is that because of gravity some beads may try and slip around the corners when the finished ornament  is hanging up, so on the upper side of the corner I try to put a long straight bead or a large one or one with a very narrow bore that won't slide round easily.  And I only use little beads or long ones on the long straight side because I think it looks nice.

Once all the beads are on I twist the two ends together lightly to stop the beads slipping off while I take it off the frame.

I then use pliers to twist the ends together evenly
and cut off the short end

and bend it over to get rid of the sharp point.

The long end is then curled around a handy tube and the ornament is ready to be stitched to the card.

I use locally handmade paper  and cut it to size by folding it and using a serrated knife to "saw" through it along the fold.  This gives it a more interesting irregular edge.

To fasten the decoration to the paper I use a double strand of ordinary sewing cotton with a knot at one end and the first stitch goes back through between the threads on the back of the paper to hold the end.

I stitch over the wire all around the loop

and finish off at the back with a couple of knotted stitches over the last stitch.

The handmade paper with the decoration is glued to coloured card.  

I use ordinary white glue but It does have a tendency to make the paper or card ripple if I use too much.

A folded piece of plain white paper is lightly glued into the centre of the card for the message.

This is so that the card can be reused simply  by replacing the paper.  However most of the people who get these cards tell me they prefer to take the decoration off the card and hang it on the Christmas tree.

Because these cards are slightly bulkier and heavier than ordinary Christmas cards I do have to use stronger envelopes.  The ones I find best are sturdy self-sealing pay envelopes and these travel through the post perfectly well - even airmail, but they cost more than ordinary letters or cards because they are a bit heavier.
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48  Bargello work glasses case in Needlework: Completed Projects by elderflower on: October 07, 2012 12:33:27 PM
At our monthly meeting of Needlecraft Guild, the class was Bargello work.  We could buy kits with canvas and thread to make a spectacle case. 

Front View

Initially I was not impressed with the colours in my kit but now that it is finished I really like the way they go together.

Back View

Side View

Enjoyed doing this as once you have done the first row, the rest are easy to do and it works up quite fast and the colours blend nicely.

I lined the case with a scrap of flannelette left over from making my daughter pyjamas years ago.
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49  Bamboo yarn sweater in Knitting: Completed Projects by elderflower on: October 02, 2012 05:20:06 AM

I finished this in August but only now got around to taking pictures. 
It is knitted using a pattern generated by the pattern calculator at http://www.knittingfool.com/ which is a brilliant site and full of other useful information.  For the pattern calculator, you put in your chest measurement, needle size and tension and it calculates the stitches and rows you need to make the sweater.  I used the raglan top-down pattern but there are others.

I got the  yarn from Orion Wool and Crafts  in Cape Town.  It  is 100% bamboo yarn, Serina by Vinnis Colours, hand dyed and balled by women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. 

It is beautifully soft and has a lovely satin sheen which I think you can see in the picture. Also the shades  are very slightly variegated because of being hand dyed.  The garment is quite heavy because of the stitch I used which carries some threads across the back to give a thicker fabric.  As a result it is also quite warm.

The stitch used was one I devised because I wanted to use all the colours but didn't want plain stripes and also I cannot get the tension right for proper Fair Isle.   The colours alternate in two rows each but I slipped stitches to make it look like blocks of colour instead of stripes.

The solid colour squares represent stitches that have been knitted. The n squares are stitches that have been slipped. The vertical arrows show the direction of knitting.  Each row on the chart is one row of knitting.  I was knitting in the round so they are all plain rows, otherwise they would alternate plain and purl.

The pattern changes direction  on the blue rows.   (Indicated by the horizontal arrows.) Either the blue knits up two stitches (x x) first and then a slipped stitch (n)or else it knits up a slipped stitch (n) followed by two knit stitches (x x). 

Between ** and ** represents one complete pattern change. 

Changing direction makes it more complicated and there is much more room for error.  I had to keep close track of my pattern changes.  You could just knit it without changing direction and it would look something like this.

Instead of this.

This picture also shows how the colour varies slightly within each shade.

Knitted on 4 mm and 3.5 mm circular needles.
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50  Christmas is coming in Winter Holidays by elderflower on: October 02, 2012 03:07:26 AM
Just to say I baked my Christmas cake this weekend - between power cuts  Grin

It always seems like such an effort, what with having to double line the tin etc and 3+ hours in the oven, with fingers crossed that the power won't go off.  But it is all done and can sit happily in a corner being spoonfed brandy at regular intervals.  Cheesy  Until I get around to icing it nearer to Christmas. 

Getting this out of the way gives me a sense of achievement and gets my mental gears into Christmas mode so I have also made a start on my Christmas cards. 

I plan to write up how I do them in case anyone else wants to know.

Hope everyone else's Christmas plans are off to a flying start.
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