Introducing Simone (the) Peg

I am pretty sure Simone the Peg can  be submitted as Pun of the Month.
simone

 

 

Today I will just show you a very quick and sweet project, the peg doll (as in, made from a peg, not the XIXth century toy). It is something I have seen quite a few times on Pinterest:

 

 

 

To make this kind of doll, you can buy a fair amount of wooden vintage pegs on ebay. You can even save some of them to add a vintage touch to your home decoration.

 

 

ebay Link (UK)

 

A dab of paint here and there and you have your doll (you may want to be careful about the face features just not to have a doll looking like a creepy clown). Mine is simply a ballerina (or a cabaret dancer) with a pompom skirt, but I really like the versions with fabric clothing.

 

It can also be a good craft activity for kids (but then you may end with a creepy looking doll ).

 

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Happy Mother’s Day

minimoi


Don’t worry, I am not nuts, UK Mother’s Day is actually next week.

When my mum saw the cute Valentine catdoll I had made, she said she wanted a doll too, without being specific about the way it should look.

So I grabbed my tiny DPNs and made a mini-me doll.

Again, I based my project on the Tanoshi Toy patterns – big head and tiny legless body – and made a little doll sporting a soft yet slightly messy mop of hair (with Debbie Bliss Angel). I even tried to reproduce my wild hairstyle!

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It also comes with trendy accessories, aka the charity shop acrylic hat which I have been wearing through the winter.

For the next doll projects, I plan to go for more normal body proportions to accessorize it more easily (because eh, that’s the fun part in knitting a toy) and I think I will knit it top-down for a safest, almost seamless toy.

Meanwhile, this cutie is going to be given to my mum in the form of a bag accessory to be carried around!

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Rendez-vous sur Hellocoton !

DIY: Upgrading a birthday gift on a bus

Let me explain: on Saturday, I went to a birthday party.

The girl celebrating her birthday had recently taken up Portuguese so that the safest gift I could think of was Nobel Prize winner José Saramago. And if the novel was about an elephant on a journey, all the better.

Only the big library in Oxford would surprisingly not do gift wrapping and I was to hop on the bus to London straightaway. I still found that giving a plain book was a bit of a shame. So I made the most of a few minutes on the bus to give my gift a slight makeover.

Photo on 15-03-2014 at 14.54

Photo credits: a very nice girl on the bus

Fortunately, I always have some yarn leftovers and a crochet in my bag. I chained stitches for a while to make a fancy ribbon and I improvised a crochet bookmark, with 3dc rows and a tiny pom pom.

Well obviously the novel matters most but I was still happy to upgrade the gift with a minimum of supplies.

My first time

Did I tell you about my first time? I mean the first time I knitted a lace project! My first experience in the matter leads me to share some useful tips with you.

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1)

Pick up a partner pattern you really like, there is no good in feeling compelled to it. I chose Emily Ross’s Haruni shawl, which has everything a girl wants: it is pretty, it is free and it does exist in French. And it is a cultivated pattern – haruni means grandmother in Elvish – as I am teaching where Tolkien was both student and teacher, I felt I could not miss that opportunity.

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2)

Enjoy safe knitting – it is the best way to feel condident and to avoid a nasty accident. There will still be problems in the process anyway. So do buy some good quality supplies, like a good row counter and stitch-markers which are specifically designed for lace-knitting (for pattern repetitions) – mine are Hiya Hiya (bought at the Fibreworks).

More generally speaking, just go for good quality instead of cheap supplies: I took a kickass yarn – Merinos Malabrigo Lace Yarn (Sotobosque) and reliable 3mm bamboo circular needles – still Hiya Hiya.

And even with a good kit you are not safe from a terribly embarrassing moment (in my case the crochet/needle binding off was something of a massacre at the beginning – it taught me a lesson about improvising new positions)

3)

Do it at home! One may be fond of outdoor kinky activities, but the first time demands way too much focus to be disrupted by external elements. For a while, do forget about knitting groups and outdoor sessions when knitting your lace shawl.

4)

Show off! The first time makes you proud and rightly so! Therefore once you are done, please walk about with your new knitted project – that is what I did last Sunday in sunny Oxford.

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Reading and knitting

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To the question: can one knit and read at the same time, someone with a bit of common sense will most likely answer in the negative way.

So how are we supposed to combine these two passions? Dull people might just say “Well drop your needles and pick up a book” which is actually the easiest way to go.

But then there are audiobooks. I hardly meet people who are fond of audiobooks to be honest, probably because for avid readers, the idea of being read to is at odds with the idea of reading.

Audiobooks are met with polite skepticism among intellectuals, as if  confessing your use of it equalled your saying in a literature talk on Jane Austen that you only knew of her work through BBC series.

More generally speaking, it is a common opinion to believe that only those who can’t read (children) should be read to.

But audiobooks have some good in them: it makes one hear the text, its rhythms, its implied meaning and its repeated motifs. They are in keeping with old traditions of reading aloud and above all, they are a gentler immersion in a text, especially for the days when one feels a little tired.

And it allows knitters to knit away while listening to the stories of the greatest heroes and heroines of all times.

Of course, there is some inconvenience too (beside the impossibility of dogearing your audiobook), mainly because the audiobook industry is not a very rich one and  draws mostly on volunteering (like LibriVox) so that there are good things and not-so- good things to be found. More significantly, I think it is a pity that most audiobooks simply do not make the most of this medium: there is often but one reader, very little reflection on atmospheres or extra sounds, in a word it is a traditional reading-aloud while it could be much more in some cases – it could be genuine audio adaptations, without texy editing  like in some good quality radio programmes.

Do you know of any nice audiobooks? Gothic tales and fantasy are usually good (Lovecraft, Harry Potter,…).

I have just finished to listen to Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth via Librivox free version  and I must say it was quite nice – I had already read the novel a few years ago but I really enjoyed rediscovering the 1900s Gilded New York. And it enabled me to complete a  shawl, which I will show here pretty soon!

Links

LibriVox

 

DIY Housewarming gift

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For housewarming parties I usually give mugs (nothing that sucks with lame taglines or nakedness, I promise). But I made an exception for the last one, and I am actually glad I did  because mugs were not exactly a missing item there, you almost felt that the poor chap with a terrible hangover who was about to open any cupboard for a coffee would instantly die in a mug avalanche.

Mill-knitted hang(ov)ers are both quite classical but fun at the same time. And it is a really quick knit, even if you add pom poms. All you need is a spool knitting or a knitting mill, simple wire hangers and pliers to untwist the top of your hanger. Then you just knit a looong tube, slightly longer than the total hanger length (just to be sure and it is easy to undo), untwist the wire and slip the tube on the wire. A mill-knitted tube does not slip very smoothly, but beginning with the hook makes it way easier (you can tug and thread your yarn tube at the same time).

For a fancy touch, I just added a couple of pom poms which doubtlessly adds a manly detail to this housewarming gift.

I used to do my pom pomps by coiling yarn around two fingers or around my hand, but I must say that these babies:

definitely make it easier for super (well-defined) balls ! It is the ideal option between the makeshift pom pom (hand/fork) and the cardboard disc thing that most people did when they were kid (here I must confess that pom pom making is sadly not part of my childhood memories).

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DIY an almost solid gold headband

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I told you just one post ago that I positively loved golden knitting yarns with a metal, precious aspect, and if there is silk in it so much the better (that actually makes up for my non-wearing of jewellery).

A few months ago, I found myself wandering in Paris yarn shop Lil Weasel and I bought one golden ball of Grace Yarn by Louisa Harding (made of silk and wool). I kind of yielded to my raccoon/squirrel/magpie impulse of stocking up on nice little things .

But what was I to do with one poor yarn ball?

I ended up making a gold&black headband, I really like this association of colours because it reminds me of the XVIth century, of French director Patrice Chéreau’s 1994 film La Reine Margot or of the tapestries of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley that can be seen around my home town.

I made it with a two-colour plait: it is just like making a normal cabling plait but with two-colour stitches

Shall I show you how to make one?

Gold&Black headband

Monter 20 mailles sur des aiguilles 4 de laine noire.

Cast on 20 stitches on no4 needle with black yarn.

R1

p4, k12. , p4.

R2 and even rows

k (NB add the golden yarn from the second row : k4black, *k2gold, 2 black* x3, k4black, and from now on just knit the colours separately like for regular intsrasia).

R.3

p4. C8L (4 stitches on a cabling needle in front of the project, k4 and knit your cabling needle stitches), k4, purl 4.

R5 and R7 like R1

R9

p4,  k4, C8R (cabling needle behind the project),p4.

R11

like R1

R12

like R2

Repeat the pattern until desired length and sew both ends. To be honest, at one point I became bored my technical two-colour plait so I just finished the project with a few rows of garter stitch (afterwards slightly gathered) for the top part of the headband. I made 4 stockinette stitches on each side of the headband, so I did a golden crochet border all around to prevent the headband from rolling up.

You can perfectly skip these 4 side stitches to make a thinner, simple plait, or you can do the side stitches in garter stitches.

Given that I currently sport a non-identified length of hair, I’d rather wear my headband when it’s tied back (and it’s good to protect my ears from the cold too).

Quatruple 26-02-14 à 22.20 #6

And last but not least:

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3§, Article 243 of the Woolen Republic Code : any headband is essentially a snood for teddy bears!