The book bounced back for its final edits and they took me a lot longer than anticipated. Consequently, everything is severely behind, so this post is a filler.
News from the (Book) Shed
Back in the summer I mentioned I would be buying Jacquie Carey’s book on braids, especially as its now available as a handy paperback and what a little feast it is!
Haven’t had the chance yet to really pour over it, but on a quick flick, I certainly admire the way its been set out. Lots and lots, of very yummy techniques to try out…
A Tiny Intarsia Knitted Bird
Back in the Spring I caught a case of ‘Bird Fever’. Not the kind reported in the press you understand, but a textile version!
Now that I come to think of it, it started because the owner of my LYS introduced a nice new line of wooden, American, Double Pointed Knitting needles. They are so fine they could even, possibly, seem a little like toothpicks. Realising the potential of such fine tools, I became really curious as to what kind of bird I could make with them?
So this post is about making a small knitted Bluetit from this wonderful book by Lesley Stanfield:
The following sequential pictures detail how I made one of these little chaps. I adapted the pattern every so slightly and used some DK yarn. As I had all the right colours, whereas the pattern suggests 4-ply. So in that sense, you could say its a ‘stash-buster’.
As the pattern is quite detailed in certain parts, I carefully wrote out the repeating sections and crossed them off as I completed them. That way I feel I can keep better control of the directions and not dread possible interruptions. So with notebook, tiny needles, burning curiosity and some peace and quiet (at last), I set to work.
First you knit the top of his head with 3 needles using a fourth needle to work the rows. I included an all-important ‘life-line’ at this stage. That is, a length of contrasting coloured yarn that’s fed through the stitches, just in case you need to unpick a mistake later on.
As you can see, the inside of the work faces you for the purl rows and then you turn it upside-down, to have the outside face you for all the knit rows.
Then you knit his neck..
Then you knit his shoulders and back..
Above you can see I introduced another surreptitious ‘life-line’ of grey yarn at the bottom of his neck. Pleased to say I didn’t need any of them, but I really liked knowing they were there…
Then I made the tail with simple ribbing.
Then you knit his body, growing (incredibly) outwards from where his beak will eventually be placed (!), to make his chest and tummy.
This section involves several ‘Short Rows with Wraps’, to achieve the correct dome-shape.
I must interrupt at this point to say, I’m a little bit fussy about my Short Rows, as I don’t think there should be any visible holes afterwards and certainly that was the way I was taught. But you know, its funny how not all books give you the same advice on this aspect and some even make it a kind of ‘virtue’ to have holes!!!
In fact, I find myself using a book’s treatment of ‘Shorts Rows’ to gauge what calibre of knitting book it really is.
So I would like to add, that the (dreaded) hole you can see further on down here, in the close-up of his tummy, is not a result of bad technique, but rather of fiddling too much with the original location of his leg, so please forgive!!
This picture is a little out of sequence, but proves the no-holes maxim!
Then you carefully pick-up a precise number of stitches on each side to make the ribbed wings…
Picking-up stitches for a left handed person is a bit weird, especially as I knit right-handed, but its not difficult really, you just have to make doubly-sure your stitches are pointing the right way afterwards and as you can see, I use a crochet hook to help me with this part.
Before you can think if stuffing him, you’ll need to weave in all those yarn ends…
Ta da !
Then you sew him together and get him well and truly stuffed!
At this stage I thought he looked, perhaps a little rotund? so I fixed that by moulding him into shape a bit (aka squeeze bird between 2 sweaty palms).
Next, onto his wiry little legs…
The legs are pretty straightforward once you can successfully locate your (prized) jewellery-making round nosed pliers and a ruler. I used silver plated wire and as you know, once you bend that, you are stuck with it, otherwise the silver cracks off. This was my second attempt at forming the cute toes. (o-oh, but I just know everyone will be transfixed at that horrendous hole that I explained earlier!)
Then you fiddle about with his feet a bit, until he can stand-up straight and you can then finish off his legs with binding, ending just short of his shiny toes…
Then you find him a convenient perch…
and try and decide which side you prefer..
N.B. I found only one, tiny error, in the pattern and that was a simple ‘typo’ concerning yarn colours. It was obvious to spot and so didn’t hinder me.
I stuffed him with all the lighter-coloured snipped yarn ends. I should also mention, that I changed his beak slightly after I knitted it, by sewing neatly into it with fine sewing thread, to bring it together, kind of thing, and refine the shape at bit more. In this way, his beak has ended up a little ‘longer’ methinks, than in the book, but it suits him as he’s a larger, DK yarn version.
As my jewellery pliers were (finally) located and in use, I decided then to repair and alter some costume jewellery that was hanging around..
Next is an elasticated bracelet that I needed to re-string. I really like the design, it looks ‘Moorish’ don’t you think? Whenever I wear it, people are always enchanted, in fact I wore it to the V&A last year and believe it or not, the guard even opened the door for me! *flutters eyelashes demurely*
Transparent jewellery elastic is quite expensive and securing it at the end can be tricky. For that part I joined the ends to some cotton thread by forming a Weavers Knot, then sewed into the knot with the remaining cotton yarn end, taking care to smooth out the bulk of the resulting bobble shape.
I felt satisfied that the completed repair would hold and in fact it did. Eventually tho’, the bracelet snapped another elastic (there are 3), this time while I was walking around the 2-hour tour of ancient Pompeii in the summer, would you believe, so its back in the workshop.
Although it’s not real gold, when I bought it, rather like dye lots for paint/wallpaper/yarn etc, it was in a display tray with countless others where the gold differed in hue on each one, some were too pink, the rest too green. I chose this one because its somewhere in the middle and really looks quite like antique gold. I wear it on its own, with perhaps a simple tiny pendant so as not to steal its thunder. No need for me to mention where I bought it….(it begins with ‘B’)
The next item up for repair
I was so pleased this summer to see the the shops were full of designs inspired by pre-history. Like this simple necklace…
A piece like this can be very flattering if worn high up the neck, where the light can be reflected up into your face and eyes.
When I tried it on, it was much too long, but that’s not a problem if the jump rings are of good enough quality to withstand adjustment.
So I shortened each side with my wire cutters and reattached the clasp.
This is the back of this very simple construction which is exactly how they used to make necklaces in bygone days..
Interior design has also been taken over by this ‘ancient look’, combining gold, silver and bronze.
Notice the (imitation) punched-gold technique employed on the mirror. Its the same method that was used on the Bronze-Age ‘Mold Gold Cape’ that I mentioned a while ago. That amazing, pure gold ceremonial garment, had been beaten from a solitary slab of gold, if you recall.
It was discovered at a burial site near the very significant huge Welsh copper mine, called The Great Orne, that was the largest copper mine in North-West Europe, 4000 years ago. It was a major trading centre for pre-historic communities.