Friday, 17 February 2012

UFOs and PhDs (a belated New Year's Resolution)

All knitters know about UFOs: the inevitable unfinished objects. Us sophisticated types prefer to refer to them as PhDs (Projects Half Done). I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions (as I never keep them) but I did sort of set one for myself this year. I decided to that I need to finish the unfinished objects (But first I needed to find them... This may be the reason why a New Year's Resolution post is actually happening midway through February).
So here are the UFOs I have unearthed from various nooks and crannies and hidey-holes. This was a really useful exercise. I got to be honest about just how much stuff I have stashed and discover where it was hidden. Dragging them out into the bright light of day to be photographed forced me to decide their ultimate fate. Will I ever finish them or should they be frogged (that's unravelled back to balls of wool for those who aren't fluent in "knitspeak")?  Do I really need to stop procrastinating about sewing fiddly things up?

The Dead Fox. This is one of my longest standing UFOs. I've blogged about this one and the inspiration for the project before. However, I really find feathers type novelty yarn hard going to knit for any length of time so its likelihood of getting finished any time soon is pretty small. It hasn't got enough votes to go to the top of the "To Be Completed Next" list at this time.

Gentleman's Sampler Afghan cushion. This is from Nicky Epstein's Book "knitting for Your Home (which is out of print these days). I actually got to meet Nicky at Craft Show in Melbourne a few years ago and she kindly autographed my book and told me that it is now considered a rare item. This cushion is intended for my son's room. He choose the patterns and colours for the initial two squares we made and the buttons we used. It goes with the decor in his room where the interior walls are painted to resemble stone castle walls.
Two squares done
This one is definitely a keep and finish. Need to decide what other two squares to make now. Actually also toying with turning this into the outer layer of case for his new Asus Tablet. These two squares are the right size to make one side of a case.

Domino Cushion. At a craft show a few years ago I picked up a little book called  Domino Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro. (In fact one of the things I consistently by at craft shows is books). This was a test piece. I wanted to see how to make basic domino squares and then how to add an I Cord edge.

Completed cushion front
Domino knitting book
This one is finished. I just need to add a cushion back and then stuff it. This is a definitely finish project. I need to go and measure it and see if a commercial cushion insert will fit. This one will be a gift or for sale as it doesn't really go with my home decor and my husband sees all cushions as offensive and requiring killing and dismembering. Though cushions in the kid's rooms escape his radar. It would go with the girl's bedroom renovation though. Hmm....

Domino shawl. This then led to the domino shawl / wrap. This was inspired by the wool which was birthday present. The photos don't really do it justice. The three colours: a brown with a blue thread through it, a grey marl and a black all have metallic gold and silver threads through them. I'm not sure how big this will be as I haven't really got a handle on how far the wool will go.

This is a very fun knit in small doses. I used to take it with me to ballet rehearsals (no more of those now since the eldest daughter retired from competitive dancing about three years ago) but it's getting a little large to be readily portable. This one I will definitely finish (but in little chunks). I'm not sure if I will wear it though!

Thomas the Tank Engine. I think Thomas is actually the longest running UFO I found (about 10 years). He is still a UFO mainly because he is sort of finished and functional as is. This is an Alan Dart pattern from the English Woman's Weekly (again out of print) and now worth a fortune on Ebay (if you can get one).
This is Thomas. He looks sort of finished doesn't he? In fact he had at least 5 years of quality playtime with my son when he was little. I actually dug him out of stuffed toy chest to take his photo.
However, these are the bits still to be added. I gave up on this for a number of reasons. It is knitted in 12ply (about aran weight) on very small needles so it is really painful on the hands after any length of time. It is extremely fiddly to sew up. And finally, notice that black bit still on the needles. I ran out of the ball of 12ply I was using and none of the other blacks quite matched. There is very little knitting to be completed here. It's mainly sewing up.
I will finish this. After all who could resist a face like this and this is a future family heirloom. I can just see it handed down through the generations. It's knitted out of good quality wool and has already stood up to a mountain of abuse (I meant vigorous play) with no visible effect.

Dickensian mice. Another vintage Alan Dart Pattern from the English Women's Weekly. I like to have a number of small knitted toys as gifts. These ones make ideal Christmas presents. So I tend to knit them when I just want to do something little.

This is nearly finished. I have the head and arms sitting there waiting to be sewn up and stuffed. I just need to remember which one I was knitting....

Ninja Knitter. My Ravelry account name is ninja_knitter. Ravelry is like Facebook for fibre artists Those who knit, crochet and spin). My little avatar at the moment is a calculator, but I want a ninja knitter. So I'm making one. This is mainly unfinished as you can't crochet black under artificial lighting. I'm also designing as I go, so it's a bit slow.

Sheep. This sheep is part of my sister's Christmas Crib. Once again all the bits are here but I have to sew it up. There's probably only about an hour's work here. Just finish it will you. (I also need to make a few more sheep, one sheep is lonely, 3 is a flock).

Camel. This is an addition to an existing Alan Dart Christmas Crib set which belongs to the small grandsons of a friend of mine. The Christmas Crib was knitted by an elderly lady in a nursing home. However, one little boy when looking at the three kings, said "Where's their camel? They need a camel!" The original pattern doesn't have a camel so I'm knitting this one from Alan Dart's Noah's Ark instead. I'm hoping the scale will work with the Three Kings.

I started sewing up the camel but need to look at the pattern to figure out which way the neck and head go together. Also, I dreading those legs which have straws in them to make then stand up properly. I did mean to have this one finished for last Christmas...
The pattern comes from this book
A headless bear. This was intended to be an aviator bear for my Long-term University Office room mate. His hobby in his spare time is to fly a light plane into remote communities and bring hands on Science to the kids of the school of the Air. He is affectionately known as Phiggles - the Flying Scientist. If you want a clearer picture of exactly what he does have a look at the ad made by Vegemite about him. The pattern for this bear comes from Debbie Bliss's book Teddy Bears: Twenty Five Irresistible Designs for knitted bears.

So I raided the stash, found some wool, knitted away and then ran out of wool. I have made the body, both arms and legs and sewed them up and stuffed them. But he is head-less.
It has been suggested that I just sew him him up and leave him headless. I may just do this.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Granny wants a Latte Macchiato

My eldest daughter has just recently moved back home after three years away in the 'Big Smoke' for University. This was an interesting exercise. It's amazing how much extra stuff you can accumulate in three years (approximately 200 kg of anatomy and physiology text books just as an example). Our house is pretty old (about 70 or so - a nice California Bungalow) but only has three bedrooms. The girls have always shared a room and now they need to again.

There were two major issues with this:
  1. The middle child had expanded to fill all the available space (well not her personally, she has the physique of an animated stick figure, but definitely her possessions). I think that this is actually a little known example of Le Chatelier's principle as applied to the ability for any given adolescent to expand to occupy any given space.
  2. The room was in major need of a makeover in terms of functionality (we now needed two serious student study spaces and major bookshelf area) and ambiance (what you thought was cute when you were 12 doesn't work so well when you are a mature 21 and 19).

So cue a paint job, a re-jig of the insides of the built in wardrobe to fit the wardrobe of someone who has worked part time in a clearance retail store for the past few years and seems to collect clothes and new furniture that matches and wasn't hand-me-down and unwanted by various grandparents... In short a room that wouldn't look out of place in the pages of a glossy house magazine or a design blog (actually more likely an IKEA catalogue).

We're almost there, there are still a few boxes in the hallways and bookshelves in unexpected places as well a large pile of such treasures as antique Barbie dolls and original Cabbage Patch Kids to sell on Ebay infesting the corners of my bedroom. The girls room is now soothing shades of grey. The desks have arrived, bookcases are in and lots of interesting quirky lighting options lit up the dark corners (who doesn't want a chandelier in their bedroom?), The males of the family have earned a Phd in flat pack assembly.

Of course I need two computers. Serious med student study in progress.
But the beds are an issue. We still can only fit single beds but the girls have upgraded to double Doonas now. But we want the bedding to match the room. The current Doona covers are pink.... (enough said).
OK I said, I'll make you both a granny rug as a bedspread to match the room.

Granny rugs are hip, cool, etc... All the indie crafters are making them (or example Pip Over at Meet Me at Mikes. Check out Granny Squares 101). I was particularly inspired by this granny rug by Sandra Juto.

So Operation Granny Rug has begun. I set myself a resolution of a least a square a day until I finish it. But I calculated I will need about 300 squares. If I'm going to go to all the effort, I want to make a rug about 2m by 1.5 m (i.e. big enough to fit a double bed).

After hunting the pattern database at Ravelry using 'free' and 'Afghan' as search terms, the pattern we chose is by Drops Design and is called Latte Macchiato.
The next step was to  go stash diving and find what wool we had. It was decided to only use 8 ply (double knitting) pure wool. I also went and raided my Mum's wool box too.

The wool

Each finished square measures 10cm.

I'm using a 4mm crochet hook

 Current square count 2nd February 2012:  21 (so 279 to go)...