Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sparkle and Shine

Hmm. Now I recently promised that this blog would be more knit-focussed. But then, I also said (to myself) that this year I wouldn't be doing Christmas knitting as I didn't have enough time and didn't want to spend the run-up frantically trying to finish projects. Read on and you'll see that a lady (ahem!) is allowed to change her mind. Be assured though, that this non-woolly diversion is a blip and that I'll be back to all things yarny soon. Fact is, I am inordinately proud of my Christmas cake and I wanted to share it here, although also slightly worried that I may have overdone 'feeding' it with sherry for the past month- it could well have quite a kick!

While I promised myself no Christmas knitting, I did persuade myself that making tutus as suggested in Oliver + S's Little Things To Sew would be a good way to take care of the half dozen little girls we need to give Christmas presents to. It was...sort of. Suffice to say, wrestling one bundle of tulle into a tutu is bearable, wrestling six is a bit more trying. Once finished and viewed with fresh eyes after a much needed night's sleep, they do have a certain seasonal magic, and I'm hoping the recipients will have lots of whirly, dancing fun in them.

And the Christmas knitting? Well, one is still a WIP- sigh!- for a little girl whom I think is a bit too small appreciate a tutu just yet. The other, shown above, is as much an indulgence for me as for my little M. I persuaded myself to buy the velvet dress by identifying at least three occasions in the coming weeks when she can wear it, and once bought it was just crying out for the sort of little fluffy white cardigan I remember from my own childhood party outfits. It's another Tiny Tealeaves, made slightly shorter and with just one button to suit the A-line of the dress. The yarn is King Cole Galaxy DK in Saturn which was on at a reduced price at Deramores. This is an acrylic wool mix with sequins that are very pretty, if slightly irritating to knit with (I like my yarn smooth). It's very soft and has a enough of a halo to give it that luxurious look. Surprisingly, when knitted up the sequins don't feel scratchy, which is a bonus despite the fact that M won't be wearing this against her skin.
With an alarming list of Christmas baking, shopping and wrapping to do, not to mention that last-minute bit of knitting, this will probably be the last of me until the other side of the festive weekend. So until then, may your holiday be full of sparkle and shine, and all your yuletide knitting be completed on time. Happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Make Do and Mend for Woolsack

Photograph from Knit Now magazine

UPDATED: Jan 17th Yikes! In my hurry to get this ready for Woolsack I managed to include a number of howlers in the pdf. The link below now should take you to a (hopefully) more correct version. Sorry to anyone who's been struggling with the previous version.

You may not think that there's much about the London 2012 Games that's going to have anything to do with knitters. This may be because you haven't heard of Woolsack,which has been granted the Inspire mark and is part of the Cultural Olympiad.

The aim of the project is to encourage people- from schools and colleges, community and craft groups, smallholders and farmers, British Wool yarn producers, spinners, dyers and individuals to help to make cushions using British wool, which will then be given as welcome gifts from the people of Britain to the visiting Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

It is hoped that making the cushions will help people gain craft skills and also to learn about the production of British Wool, on which the British economy and early industry were originally founded. In this way a wide range of people can be inspired by the 2012 Games, even if not everyone is able to participate directly in sports and athletics.

The cushions are all to be 40cm square, made from British wool yarn and be suitable for stuffing with more pure British sheep's wool before being sewn up- the latter part of this process will happen at 'stuffing events' which participants can either attend or send their cushions to be completed at. Special labels will be attached, along with any personal messages from the makers. The completed cushions will then be offered to the athletes, with any that are left over being donated to charities.

It's a fascinating project that can only raise the profile of the British wool industry, so I was really happy to be asked to help out by modifying my Make Do and Mend pattern so that it will work as a Woolsack cushion. It's available as a PDF for those wishing to contribute to the project, while further details and links to other pattern1s can be found at UPDATE: 1st May 2012. This pattern is no longer available as a free download, but will shortly be available for sale as a full version in my Ravelry Shop.

PS Just to say that the original version of the pattern was published in Knit Now and the rights remain with them at the moment. They've given permission for me to reproduce it in this form to support the Woolsack project, so please only download the pattern if that's what you want to use it for. If you're keen to make one for another purpose, back issues of the magazine are available through Practical Publishing and after the Spring deadline for Woolsack, I'll be making the original version of the pattern available through Ravelry. Thanks!