Monday, January 21, 2008

Totoro progress!

Hi folks!

So, the Totoros are coming along well, and I'm so pleased with how they've turned out, I thought I'd post a quick photo.
They're not quite done yet, they both need tails and possibly feet, as well as deciding if they should have some weights in to help them stand up. I'm leaning towards no - I think part of the cuteness of them is how completely unbalanced they look.
They big one may have to wait a little while, unfortunately, until I can nip home and pick up some grey wool. He'll probably need to be a bit smaller than the actual proportions would suggest too, but I that seems to vary quite dramatically anyway, so I'm not so concerned about taking some liberties.
I'm also extremely proud of the seams on the back of the blue one(although you can't see that from here). I realised I'd been doing mattress stitch all wrong, and suddenly figured out how to do it properly. They're still not perfect, but *so* much better. I'm now actually looking forward to when I next get to sew some seams!

Hugh :o).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Smoothie hats

For a couple of years now, Innocent smoothies have run a campaign in which they ask knitters to make little hats to go on their smoothie bottles. Around christmas time they then sell drinks with hats on(in some places, but these seem to be quite hard to find). In return, they then give money to Age Concern.
It's a really nice idea, as well as raising money it gets people involved, raises the profile of both knitting and Innocent, and since they encourage people to modify their basic hat design as much as they like, it's a great chance to be creative which they would never be able to match if they just produced the hats themselves on a large scale. I think we at City Knitty have a bit of a soft spot for them too because they gave us a huge number of freebies to get us going for knitting in public day.

So I'm having a play around with some of these. It's nice to be knitting something for charity as well as playing around, and this seems to be a great way to get through the loose ends of wool I have a bad habit of collecting. It's also a great little thing to do in between other projects, particularly for those times when you need something simple to knit but don't want to start any big new project.
My main reason for doing this though(and this is where it gets geeky) comes from a talk I went to recently about Bach, which got me thinking about art generally. There's a whole philosophical ramble behind this(ask me if you're interested), but the upshot is that I'm keen to knit in a more impromptu way, taking little ideas and working them into things, whereas up til now I think I've tended to start with a big idea and go from there. That's a little vague, I know, but the concept is still a little vague for me.

Hugh :o).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tea - now with added Wellness!

Right, tea cozy is done! It was a nice small project so it hasn't taken long at all. The design ended up being quite a bit more intricate than I'd expected- I really wanted to knit it mostly in the round, with some flaps and buttons so that it could be fitted onto the teapot without any stretching. I'm sure this isn't really necessary, but it seems more elegant, as well as being a handy excuse to add some buttons.

I decided too to add a little ribbed border around the spout. Mostly this was because I realised the hole I was leaving for it was quite large, but I think it makes a nifty little feature too. Unfortunately the spout on this teapot curves quite sharply so the border could only be a few rows wide without needing some drastic shaping, otherwise this could have been a rather tighter fit.

Of course the big test will be how long it can keep my tea warm for. I've tried it a few times, and it seems to keep it hot for just about long enough, but the real test will be tomorrow, when I take it in to the maths department. The motivation for this was largely so I could drink pots of tea while I'm working, rather than having to make several cups of tea. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself- that way this almost counts as work :o)

Slight cause for concern is that tea seems to stain knitting really quite badly, and seems to be nearly impossible to get out, so I'm going to need to be rather careful with my pouring in future...

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cheshire cat scarf

Ok, the Cheshire cat scarf is done!
I'm not really happy with how it turned out, to be honest. The peach colour for the mouth is a bit too bright, and it doesn't quite go with the dark brown colour of the stripes. I don't like the edges, which look quite messy and would be much better with some kind of border to hide them. I guess I might decide to add some kind of crochet edging to make this better, and happily I think I have enough spare yarn to do this.
But the big problem I have with it is that the cat looks kinda cartoonish to me. It needs to be simple to be clear so I'm not sure how this could be improved. It's possible an added edging would help with this too, take some of the emphasis away from the picture.
On the whole though, it seems like this was an interesting idea but didn't really work out it practice.

That said, the combination of stranding and shadow knitting did seem to work out, so it at least shows this is possible. One concern is that the stranding does affect the stiffness of the fabric, so when you work both at the same time it would be better if the stranding ran the whole length of the piece, rather than just a small patch here. This would make the pictures show up more clearly, with less care taken to hold the piece flat.

But hey, maybe I'll like it more once I've put it away for a while. I do have another plan or two I'd like to try out with shadow knitting at some point too.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tea-cozy of +4 wellness

So, a while ago I was wandering around Ravelry and came across a design for a tea cozy. (The Ravelry link is here, but needs some logging in.) It was designed and made by crocheting-mathematician Cayenne.
It's a tea cozy of +4 wellness. After all, tea cozies are pretty cool, but surely a tea cozy *and* +4 wellness has to be even better? I'm not really a role-playing geek myself, but I really like the idea of taking objects and unilaterally assigning them special powers. I am, however, a tea-geek, and hoping that a good warm tea cozy will make it possible to keep a pot of tea nice and warm through a good long afternoon of maths.

The original tea cozy is crocheted, but I'll make a knitted version instead - because it's symmetric the shaping should be quite simple. And I'll add a little button flap to open and close it, if only because I'm enjoying making buttonholes lately.

And thanks to Cayenne for letting me borrow the idea!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


If you've seen the film My Neighbour Totoro, this'll probably make sense to you straight away. It's a wonderful film by Hayao Miyazaki, about two young girls living in the countryside for the first time. It's quite hard to explain why the film is so much fun, but 'enchanting' is very much the right word for it.
It features three woodland spirit... things of different sizes. The largest of these is Totoro, although I'm not sure if that's a name or a description, and it may of may not include the two smaller ones, but for my purposes I'm going to call them all Totoro.
So the plan is, I'm going to make a set of the three Totoros. There's a few patterns out there for these, and the best seems to be these ones:

I haven't been able to find a pattern for all three, and I'm particularly keen that they all be in proportion to each other. That's a little tricky because the big one is a lot bigger than the smallest(about 9 times, by my reckoning), but I think that's reflected really nicely in the animation, the size is reflected in the level of detail, which is something I'm really keen to carry across. And to be honest I just prefer to make my own patterns anyway, it's much more fun.

So that's the plan, I'm gonna knit me a family of Totoros. I'm not sure yet what I'll do with them, so if anyone has ideas, or would be keen to provide a loving home to a family of troll-thingies...?