You deserve it – choosing the right gift

As all crafters, I often give people handmade (mainly knitted) items. But I find it hard to choose what to make, especially as I have started to knit for almost random people to fulfil my knitting needs :)

So, I would be happily knit a lot for lots of people but I also don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable because they might consider it too much or too big (or because they wonder who on earth I actually am). And then they will make me feel uncomfortable because I really don’t like it if people admire my things too much, give me even compliments or are too thankful…. which happens about every single time when a person from the cold Austrian region of Vorarlberg moves to a polite and thank you – obsessed England :)

And what about local customs? I always feel very unsure about that. Do teachers in nursery and primary school get gifts at the end of the year as they would in Austria (well, as far as I remember)? At the end of each term? Christmas? What if they don’t celebrate Christmas? And who? Just the key worker? And maybe the class teacher? What about the head teacher? And actually the child is really fond of those other two teachers, so I really would want to give them something. But that might upset others. As they would be on the same level of hierarchy.

And not to forget the time issue, obviously. So I have become a big fan of small gifts. You can make them in a reasonable time and no one will get hurt.

After just a few smallish gifts for the main people in nursery in the first year and having offended at least one who didn’t get anything (receptionist, in my defence),

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I have decided to make a tiny thing for each and every single one last year. The care taker seemed rather pleased with his knitted butterfly badge I have to say (He does have a small daughter, so it will get used) :)

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I feel really confident with the appropriateness of those tiny gifts for the end of year occasion but I guess I will have to step up a gear for the final gifts when child No1 is leaving nursery.

On another very recent occasion I might have gone a bit over the top. I forgot to pay a friend of my sister a bread delivery worth a couple of euros. She might not even remember, but I am not happy about it, especially as I keep forgetting it since many many months. So I guess, an apology on a fancy glittery English card and the money would do it but on the other side, it is a really lovely person and I wanted to knit a Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley since over a year and also finally make something out of a Zauberball as I had seen so many lovely projects on ravelry. So an apology scarf seemed to tick all the boxes.

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I am a big fan of dropping stitches – after years of worrying to accidentally drop one, it is just so much fun to let them drop on purpose and even pull and stretch to open up those bubbles.

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I love the airiness and fluffiness of this scarf – I made a small version for appropriateness reasons ;) but I think now that this pattern really calls for something big to show those bubbles off rather than hiding them in a wrapped – around – your – neck – mess.

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On my current gifts to make – list, there is a dress for a newborn baby of another mum in nursery. Should I now make something for the two other pregnant mothers too? One of them might actually not even know my name, she might get a bit scared of the weird lady following her around with her knitting needles :)

How do you decide on what to make for whom? How do you decide? Any advice? I clearly need help.

Wer will mich – looking for a new home

Hello, hello, I am back.

I have gone all quiet since the holidays mainly due to a lack of inspiration…. which also resulted in two rather lukewarm scarf projects. Don’t get me wrong, the patterns are both lovely, I have used beautiful yarn in both cases, but I’ve got the sizing wrong and it is just not quite right for me and my neck. So I am thinking of finding a new home for them. A bit like Edith Klinger’s Wer will mich? for those Austrian readers :)

So, first of all, we have a lovely Trillian by Martina Behm – a narrow, slightly asymmetric triangular shawlette with an eyelet border in a luxury silk/merino yarn by Dye For Yarn in green tones. It is about 190cm long and 30cm wide at the widest point.

The problem I have with it is that it is not quite big enough (because I had much less yarn than suggested). Wrapping it around my neck only once, leaves long ends, but wrapping it around twice is not quite possible. Especially as it is asymmetric.

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The other lovely shawlette looking for a new home is a Lintilla, again by Martina Behm, again a slightly asymmetric, rather narrow triangle but with ruffles instead of eyelets. I have used a gorgeous bluish green 100% merino wool by Wollmeise but it is as well slightly too short (or too long, depending how often you want to wrap it around your neck). It is about 195cm long and about 26cm wideat the widest point.

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So, if you think that you are the right person to take care of one of these (or you know a person who would be able to offer one of them a good home), please leave me a quick comment, explaining why you are the right person and I will be happy to post it to you.

If there is more than one person interested in one of them, random.org will have to decide.

And if you are wondering why I keep knitting too small things: I guess it was a deadly combination of lack of commitment, lack of patience and lack of a good kitchen scale to wait for the right moment to start the end sections :)

After such a long break, the start of the new school term is a good time for me to take things more seriously again (I have already, just a bit behind with the posting). I guess I am still a teacher, going from september to september rather than january to january :)

 

 

 

 

same old, same old

A couple of months ago I knitted this flower head band.

moss stitch hairband with flower

moss stitch hairband with flower

Half a year later I am still working on the same kind of things, how boring :)

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I am currently trying out my new overlocker, a Bernina 800DL. It came with a free class which I haven’t been able to take (yet).

Anyway, I made this hairband with a little left over jersey stripe and just decorated it with a jerseyflower. I didn’t even bother cutting it nicely just wrapped it around my daughters head to see if it would be long enough and sew it together. As it is fairly pretty, I feel a bit ashamed and will definitely make another one properly. Might make a tutorial out of it.

In the meantime, I am enjoying my prettily dressed children, both wearing freshly overlocked jersey stuff with patterns from pattydoo, the website, pattern designer, blogger,…. I mentioned in my last post already.

I bought the patterned fabrics a couple of months ago, maybe even last summer, at Stoffsalon in Vienna, a little bit expensive for people who get everything dirty within minutes but gorgeous. The plain colours are from Shepherd’s Bush where I have definitely not seen anything as nice as those more expensive ones.

Now that I have practised on children’s cloths I will definitely make a jersey top for myself.

And the knitting (since this is supposed to be a knitting blog)? I am currently working on a Lintilla by Martina Behm in a greenish Wollmeise Merino from my stash. Lovely scarf it will be but I mainly don’t really know what to knit next. I guess I am in a knitting midlife crises. Suggestions welcome :)

 

 

summer, sun and sew

Lots of sewing rather than knitting lately. I have been told to stop knitting on several occasions. It makes me tired apparently. According to one of the little persons in this household at least.

Anyway, I am currently planning my future (September) and have decided to take sewing a step further. There seems to be a huge gap between Level 1 and 2 in the college of my choice and as I want to skip the first one, I am actually really “studying” my fancy – unopened until now – sewing book to learn new techniques rather than making the zillionst simple little girls skirt…. by making the first simple big girl skirt for myself.

I was thinking since a long time to one day make a better version of my cheap but very comfortable tiered skirt and when I found a pattern / tutorial from the pattydoo-blog in my inbox I went for it. Finally.

Pattydoo is a great young German dressmaker, designer, blog writer, sewing tutorial creator,… and I am sure I will realise many more of her ideas. There is also a pattydoo designer where you can customize her designs before downloading the pattern and she would have just started her own line of fabrics (in cooperation with someone), just beautiful. But the delivery costs from Germany to the UK are still too high for such small orders…. This might sound silly coming from someone who lives a 5min walk from Shepherd’s Bush’s (London) fabric paradise but it really seems that those Germans have better fabrics (not just football)

Anyway, back to my skirt: It was simple and quick to make and it took me almost longer to take the pictures than sewing the skirt. I eventually gave up. That photography class was obviously a waste. Lets hope for a better outcome from the sewing class :)

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busy (sewing) bee

So the super hero guinea pig has apparently been easy to guess, which I am very happy with as I had been worried it might just look like a fat mouse.

The other teachers became each a flower or a butterfly, either on a hairpin or as a brooch.

IMG_2142sAs you can see, I have also made two pairs of ear rings, easy peasy with my new crochet skills :)

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They have all been very much appreciated.

After all those tiny knits lately, I am now looking for a bigger project but I am unsure what that should be, but I will only use yarn from my stash. Promised.

Other than that, I am trying to focus more on sewing lately and I can proudly present a finished dress… if you remember in one of my mistakes posts I was talking about a wrongly cut dress. Well, I am still planning on repairing that one soon but in the meantime I finished the second attempt and after a lot of altering the initial pattern which seems to be made for people with unusually large backs (or do I have an unusually narrow one?), here it is, just in time for the week of British summer :) :

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I am extremely pleased with it, but then I already knew nothing could go wrong with that fabric when I stumbled over it in one of the fabric shops in Shepherds Bush in West London…

Ok, a lot of things went wrong along the way but I finally made it (with lots of brilliant input from my lovely sewing teacher Esther).

Two people said, it reminded them of Mary Quant (who I had not known before that as a not-really-fashionista). Fine by me (now that I googled her) :)

I will still try to fix the discoloured and wrongly cut first attempt and it will be really interesting to see both next to each other. I wonder which one I will like best…

 

teacher’s pet

I am currently working on little somethings to thank the nursery teachers for putting up with taking care of my little darling. They will mainly get little butterflies or flowers which I will show in an other post but I made something special for the head teacher and wonder if anyone could actually guess what it is meant to be.

So, what do you think? What is this supposed to be? Without any hints or multiple choice options.

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I would be most happy if anyone could guess what I have tried to achieve, so don’t hold back with our ideas.

In any case, the little fellow proved to be very popular in this house, I hardly managed to take a single picture without catching any thieves red handed :)

I am done

No more knitting. I am done with it.

Vase 09sOk, ok, there might me the occasional addition to my window display in the future, maybe a hungry caterpillar maybe another flower but for now I am done.

After the octopus flowers I was a bit unproductive and only managed to make a few more flowers and a few lovely mini beasts.

The improvised bee, as requested by my daughter:

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And two butterflies.

butterfly both sI was looking for patterns and could not quite decide which one of these two I prefer. The small and simple knitted one from Spud and Chloe or the crochet one following a video tutorial by nadelspiel.

I think the simple knitted one corresponds maybe more to my generally rather childish style and I have already gotten a firm request to make one of these to be fixed on a hair clip :)

The crochet one is beautiful (just as butterflies are) and it was another good crochet experience for me.

From a linguists point of view it is really interesting how much easier it is for me to refresh my almost inexisting crochet skills in German rather than English. Even though I do not remember how to make the different stitches, hearing the familiar words Staebchen and feste Masche has a very comforting effect. And I guess, following a very clear video tutorial is helpful too.

I decided to arrange two of the mini beasts rather close to the flowers.

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butterfly knit window sThey might not be spotted from far away or from people just passing but they will be the fun little surprise for those who actually look at it properly. I really think having them there makes a lot of difference. The flowers are nice and people might even admire the knitting skills (if they can not knit at all) but discovering bee and butterfly will hopefully make them smile. Especially if they are on their way to the dentist next door :)

And just for those who think that I am always overcritical with myself: I think I should have planned the arrangement in advance rather than just putting them up when knitted up. They are not very well mixed colourwise nor specieswise. And as all tulips and roses are rather high up it is difficult to actually see the difference between them when standing on the pavement which is a bit of a shame because they are both made from very good and accurate patterns. But don’t worry, I am very pleased with the finished display. I just don’t know what to knit next… HELP!!!!

 

 

How to crochet an octopus

Yes, I said “crochet”.

I thought my flower window display is the perfect opportunity to brush up my crochet skills dating from primary school days. And since I was unable to knit the beautiful Gerbera on oddknit I looked for a crochet pattern and found lovely flower patterns on the Meli Bondre blog and because of the rather deadly combination of crochet skills dating from primary school and trying to understand a pattern in a foreign language, I looked up all the strange letter combinations in Cherry Hearts Crochet Corner, an incredibly useful and also pretty site for anybody who wants to know about crochet with great tutorials to all sort of crochet stitches.

But back the Octopus – tutorial:

Choose a Gerbera pattern, ignore completely yarn and hook suggestions, take the one hook that you have and ideally too thick yarn for that hook.

Don’t bother counting the stitches when creating the inner circle. It is late and the yarn is dark. It will be roughly enough.

Continue until there is no more space to add any more petals legs. I know, from a marine biologist point of view, an octopus should have rather 8 legs (and probably that same marine biologist would not necessarily call them legs) rather than a good 30 but the crocheted octopus looks good with that many legs or arms or whatever.

Gerbera A1

(As my daughter has pointed out, it clearly isn’t an octopus because it doesn’t have eyes.)

If you like it but still want to crochet a Gerbera, just do the same again, maybe with different yarn, but don’t be surprised to get another octopus.

Gerbera B1

The octopus tutorial finishes here.

After a bit of ironing the seafood actually turns into something more flowery

Gerbera C2but size wise they are not quite at the same scale than my lovely knitted roses and tulips.

Vase 07A little overpowering I guess and not recognisable as Gerberas next to the smaller flowers, maybe weirdly dyed sunflowers? But then it helped a lot to make the bouquet much fuller quickly. And they work well to attract views from further away which was the point of the whole window display anyway.

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on the other side…

Just a quick picturesque update on the window yarn bombing. Somehow I am not as quick as I thought, slowed down by all sorts of things, visitors staying, possible bronchitis in combination with stiff neck, children refusing both to cook or going to nursery by themselves,….

Anyway, there is still lots to do but this is how far I got:Vase 01

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I put the vase up first and left it empty for a couple of days so people passing and eventually noticing it could wonder what on earth that thing would mean.

The initial plan was to add one or two flowers each day but as I said, I am producing them much slower and I am nowhere near the end. There is still lots of space for more….

And as my daughter suggested, there should also be a bee and maybe a butterfly. I really like that idea and will definitely add them.

Some of the flower pattern I found at oddknits, others are variations of something that I had seen in a book ages ago.

I also want to pick up crochet again and add some crocheted flowers, so far only some of the stems and leaves are. I kind of used the tutorial at the twisted yarn but without actually knowing English crochet vocabulary … so I might have gotten it totally wrong. They still look like leaves though.

I am very pleased with it so far, and I hope it cheers up people who pass, especially those who continuously mistake our house for the dentist next door :)

but considering the slow pace I wonder if I will ever get to do the two other, much bigger, windows.

still to be continued…

Window bombing is progressing slowly and my initial plan of step-by-step revelation has changed this morning when I saw the display against the sun and through the white blinds.

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So you’ll have to wait a little longer to see the other side of it :)

And for all those who are more interested in the football world cup than knitting (thanks for following the blog anyway :) ), a piece of Football – Sachertorte for you. Enjoy.

IMG_1940It turns out to be the perfect breakfast if you want overexcited children on a sugar high.

But now lets go and enjoy this sunny sunday.