Tag Archives: knitting

La chanson du hérisson / The hedgehog song

La chanson du hérisson takes me right back to my childhood, it’s a sweet song from a French children musical: Emilie Jolie (1979)… It tells the story of a little hedgehog who’s really sad because no-one wants to stroke him because he is too prickly… until Emily comes around and saves him. I quite like this sweet cover version:

But beyond the fondness for the prickly beasty and the song, I have a good reason for mentioning hedgehogs here. A little while back, I took part in a contest on Ysolda Teague‘s blog and went on a hunt for hedgehogs in her photos. I counted all her little hedgehogs and for the first time ever, I won a prize: Yipppeee!

It was not only the Smith pattern, which produces the cutest little hedgehog, but also the wee mushrooms one, to create a small habitat for Smith… I was wondering what yarns I’d use, but then remembered that one of my aims for this year was to knit more with my own handspun. And the small amounts of yarn required for these two patterns are ideal for using some of those sample skeins I keep doing to try out different methods of drafting or plying…

White merino and Brown Blue-Faced Leicester, navajo plied on the fly.

I have been trying to practice spinning consistently thickish lately and I still have quite a bit of Bluefaced Leicester in a yummy humbuggy brown, which is slightly felted (shouldn’t have carried it around in a plastic bag for ages). I was finding it a bit easier to spin the BFL thick than the merino, I spun a few yards of each and turned them into a cute practice mushroom.

The pattern is really clever and uses a completely flat cast-on to provide a good base, and you then stack pennies at the bottom of the stalk before stuffing it so it can stand on its own: genius!

As soon as I was done I realised I couldn’t really just stop there… Navajo ply on the fly on the spindle is like magic: you have fibre in one hand and finished 3 ply yarn in the other. Before I knew it (and before the yarn had even been finished) I had started knitting a Smith in the same combination of yarns. Here he was in Paris discovering the world before I gave it to a friend for her baby son…

Since I’d forgotten my wee mushroom in my English home, Smith and the wee mushroom never actually met… I still have a very dark brown in unprepped Black Welsh Mountain which would make lovely hedgehog spikes… This mushroom definitely needs a hedgehog to go with it… can you see where this is going?

Oh and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but as soon as I wrote the title of this post it struck me how the two languages yield two very different sets of associations. The Hedgehog song might be familiar to Terry Pratchett fans: it is the mysterious rude song which Nanny Ogg seems to regularly break into singing when drunk. Its lyrics are never disclosed, to my knowledge at least, but it never fails to offend the people around her at the time.

I like the contrast between the sweet children song La chanson du hérisson, and a good bout of sweariness…

PS: I’m not done with the natural dyeing posts yet, just need to finish writing up the last two types of natural dyeing we did…


Behind the scenes

Lately, I’ve had many things on the go and they’ve all been taking longer than planned to complete. Rather than rushing them to finish them off to show them here, I’ve decided to show you some photos of the work in progress.

First, some resin casting, with some birdy whorls soon to be drilled on my brand new press drill to become top whorl spindles:

Magpie whorls in 6 and 7 cm diametres, weight ranging from 27g to 38g.

In terms of spinning, I’ve been spinning tussah silk on my Russian spindle Annia for the last couple of months, and loving it. I’m aiming for a 2-ply laceweigt, which I’ll probably leave undyed and plan to knit into a stole. I didn’t do a sample and I’ve just been spinning without much control, as I was still getting to know Annia, so I’ve no idea of the yardage I’m going to have when I’m done:

Tussah silk: Fibers, one cop spun, another in progress on my Russian spindle Annia.

Also on the spindles: I’ve got quite a bit of Blue Faced Leicester in yummy browns spun on my little Grace and on Jarod, destined to be a 4-ply. I’ve done one Turkishful and almost twice as much on Jarod, which I’m going to make into an Andean bracelet to ply once it’s exactly double the weight of the first cop. For the last of the singles for the 4-ply, I’m currently spinning a second Turkishful:

Blue Faced Leicester, including knit swatch.

On the knitting side of things, I was waiting on some T-pins I ordered to get the Echo Flower shawl a second blocking. They finally arrived this morning, so I gave my shawl a soak of Eucalyptus Eucalan bought at Unravel, and it is now blocking again.

I suddenly realised last night that I needed an instant gratification project. So I decided to take some merino I spun a little while back as an attempt to spin thickish, and I cast on an improvised cafetiere cosy. When Eddie comes round and the expresso machine is just not right for the amount of coffee we drink, but the cafetiere always goes cold before we’ve had the time to drink it all… This, I hope, will be of help. And in the meantime I’m having fun with braids and making things up… Here is last night’s progress, I think it’s already half way there:

There are always a few more projects on the needles and the spindles in the background, but those are my main points of focus at the moment.

How about you? Are you quite monogamous in your projects or a bit of a philanderer like me?

Spreading the love

Valentines day will soon be upon us, and although I’ve never celebrated it much, I really love the idea that Eddie over at the Grey Duckling, has cooked up for it. It is taking the love theme of Valentines, but allowing it more scope, and spreading the love worldwide.

It’s called A World in Love. The idea is very simple: you craft a heart, anything goes, using whatever material you enjoy working with, I’m knitting one, but there are people making some out of paper and so on. You then photograph that heart in a place you love, or which holds a special place in your heart. You upload your photo onto the flickr group, or post in in the Ravelry or the facebook group and it will be uploaded for you on flickr.

You can also add a few words about the place. And I love the next bit: the photos are geotagged to show a map of the hearts. I think for the moment there are not that many yet, but I know of people around the world thinking of making theirs… So I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

Tree in Winchester

This picture was taken by Eddie from Grey Duckling, with a heart I knit for her with the yarn she spun from a recycled sweater... There's so much I love about this: the tree (I'm tree obsessed), the recycled yarn, Winchester, the beautiful winter light...

I’m currently knitting a contribution to the group, which I want to photograph in London as I’m there twice a week at the moment and there are so many places I love there… I’ve been struggling with light lately as the winter sun is being particularly difficult in England in the past couple of weeks, but I’ll definitely get at least one photo on there before the 14th of February.

Will you?

The Knitted Christmas Star pattern is up

It has now been tested by a couple of people (Thank you so much Eddie and Caitriona!) and apparently it actually makes sense, so here is the pattern for the Christmas Star.

Knitted Christmas star

The star is knit entirely in the round, the centre of each side first, then each points, using stitches from both center pieces. The first one is a bit slower to knit, but once you’ve done a few they’re a lot faster. It now takes me about an hour to make a star from start to finish. In aran weight it gives a 9cm wide star. Using a yarn with stretch, like wool, is much easier than cotton or silk, as Eddie painfully found out.

I even went and set the pattern up with its own Ravelry page, so please upload photos if you do decide to make one as I’d really like to see how yours come out. If you don’t have a Ravelry account, feel free to email me a photo, or leave one in the comments, I’d love to see them.

This is the first ever pattern which I’ve written out, so I’ll welcome any suggestions for improvement, and I look forward to seeing what other knitters make of it.

Knitted Christmas: mini stockings

I came across those a few days ago in my Christmas ornaments knitting frenzy and straight away cast on and made a couple. If I hadn’t also suddenly decided that there were a few more presents I needed to knit before the end of the week I’d be making many more of those mini stockings.

Mini stockings

I wanted them to be very small so I made them on 2mm needles with fingering weight yarn. Although I was in so much of a hurry to start on them I grabbed a few balls of yarn and headed down to Crafty Coffee on Friday morning. Once there, I realised that my white yarn was substantially thinner than my teal one. But still too impatient to wait till I got home to choose another yarn, I started knitting the little tree stocking with the two different weights of yarn anyway.

These are my first ever items, albeit very small ones, knitted entirely with my own handspun yarn, and that makes me slightly giddy. Although I’ve now been spinning for about six months, I’ve only ever knitted sample squares, and absolutely loved it, but until now had not taken the plunge any further. I also have to admit that because I wanted to find out as much about spinning as fast as possible, I have tried many things, and have a lot of very small skeins, which do not necessarily lend themselves easily to many projects.

This is merino top spun on a CD spindle. The teal is the result of my first ever dye experiment with acid dyes, and I was pretty happy with my very small skein. I love the knitted result, and the stocking is incredibly cute, but the thinness of the white merino makes the shape of the heel a bit weak, which in my eyes throws out the balance of the whole stocking.

So on the second one (the zigzag design), I decided to double my white merino to obtain a similar weight to the teal, and I have to admit it worked out very nicely. I’ve still got plenty more of the teal, and enough of the white merino to make many more, although I’m not sure if I’ll have time to make many more before Christmas…

And, just to show off all my knitted tree ornaments, here is a pic of my Christmas ficus, no Christmas tree in my house, but like Eddie, who’s written about what to do if you dont’ have one, I’ve found an alternative:

Christmas ficus

(Sorry for the overexposed photos thoughout, most of them were taken in entirely unsuitable light)

Knitted Christmas stars

After making so many little hearts, I started wondering about other stuffed shapes I could come up with, and which might be suited to the holiday season. For me, stars are the most Christmassy shape. I used to cut some out of cardboard and shiny paper when I was a child to fit the Christmas tree color scheme that my mother had decided on, and would then leave them all over the house. I’ve been meaning to knit a Celestine for a while to put on top of the Christmas tree, but for now I fancied something smaller and even more of an instant gratification. Something I could easily knit in one sitting.

I played around a bit with different ideas for a five pointed star. I wanted the stitches to go from the centre out, and I wanted it to have as little seaming and fiddling as possible (they’re still a bit fiddly in places, but I can live with that). I also didn’t want the increases or decreases to be hidden in the seams, I wanted the shaping stitches to be a bit of a feature. There’s been a fair amount of trial and error, but I think I’ve now got it.  I’m pretty happy with the result I must admit, I like the overall look of those.

Knitted star in aran weight yarn

These are slightly bigger than the little hearts… This purple star made in aran weight yarn and knit on 3.5mm needles has a ‘wingspan’ of 9cm.

I’m currently writing up the pattern, but before I share it, I’m going to first make sure it all makes sense by asking a couple of friends to try and knit one from my written instructions. It’s the first time I try to write out a pattern, so I just want to make sure it’s more than just making sense in my own warped mind. Once I’m satisfied with how clear it all is, I’ll post the pattern here.

It only takes a short time to knit a star, and once you’ve done one the second one is even faster, so hopefully there will still be time to put some on your tree!

A knitted Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching… Slightly over two weeks to go and I appear to be completely unprepared this year as always. But I’ve decided there is still time to knit myself a bit of Christmas. I won’t knit Christmas presents for my whole family (although I have a few things I completed earlier this year which will be gifted under the tree), but I’m arming myself with knitting needles and bits of yarn and entering the Christmas spirit.

This year, I’ve decided to give a go at knitting Christmas decorations, they will hold to no watering for a couple of weeks much better, when I’m in France spending Christmas with my family, and still be just as fresh when I get back. I’m also hoping this will become a bit of a collection in the long run, to which I will add over time, so that, even if I only have time to knit a few ornaments this year, next year I will have a few more. I’ve never been very good at decorating my house for the festive season.

I started off with these lovely little things to hang in my plants, or a tree if I ever get one, or just around the house. They’re a very quick knit and a brilliant way to use up odd ends of yarn. I immediately fell in love with these little hearts:


Knitted hearts

Knitted hearts

I took the model here, the blue one is made of fingering weight yarn, the purple one of a laceweight yarn held double, both are knit on 3,5mm needles. I’m off to make plenty more to sprinkle around. I’m also working on a knitted wreath, although there are a few hurdles, and experimenting to make a pattern up for stuffed knitted stars in the same style as the hearts.

If anyone else has any pointers to give me on knitted Christmas, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.