fun

Merry Christmas!

How times change.

A very Merry Christmas from me to you! x


The Snowy Adventures of the Photo-Hat

Studio Cat looking at the snow.

As you might have realised, it has been snowing here in the UK. Very much more than usual for this time of year, and almost in one fell swoop overnight. Giles and I are lucky enough to work from home most of the time, so quickly rejigged our schedules to take advantage of the glorious powdery snow before it had time to freeze and turn to trecherous ice.

We donned walking boots and gaiters, neckwarmers and woolly gloves before venturing out to revel in the still-falling snow. We walked for about three hours past the village green, the not-so-gritted roads and along the even more beautiful than usual Saxon track in the woodland. We both took a lot of photographs: Giles on his Nikon D3, myself using the little camera on my blackberry (which is strangely better than my little point and shoot camera for sharpness, although guess whose photographs came out better overall?)

Here are just a few shots that I took including some inspiring bronzey-orange coloured leaves peeping out of the snow which might make their way into a fledgling making-idea that I have.

As the day’s official documenter of Giles-Babbidge-behind-the-scenes, I made sure that I got some good shots of his hat. During the summer he had asked me whether I could knit him a hat with his logo on it.

After some charting, measuring of head and pattern writing, it turns out that indeed I could. Although his logo is usually black on white, or white on black, Giles preferred to have a more earthy colour to wear. The finished photo-hat, as it is now called, is made from Sublime DK baby cashmere merino silk yarn, in white and mole (which describes the colour perfectly), and is gorgeously soft to the touch. It’s getting an awful lot of use just lately.


‘.. if an old lady tried to knit that many, her hands would catch fire’

I love David Shrigley‘s work. I first came across it in an exhibition in Prague while I was there on a uni field trip a number of years ago. He was recently commissioned to produce this humourous short animation for the fashion label Pringle of Scotland, to mark their return to Milan Fashion Week this year. It is all about how jumpers and cardigans have been made over their 195 year history, and is just brilliant. Do enjoy.


Making it up as you go along…

Sometimes a whole lot of similar ideas come out at once, independently of one another.

I’ve been thinking for a while about crowdsourcing tweets to make a knitting pattern. I’d flip a coin to tell me to knit or purl but receive the rest of the instructions from my twitter followers. It’s something which I’ve sort of done before, with the aid of a few friends, but not on such a scale.

This is Mmm – Entrails, or The Red Un-Round. The result of pub-instruction knitting, it was originally cast on as a mobius wrap. It didn’t end up that way.

Mmm - Entrails (or The Red-Unround)

Mmm - Entrails (or The Red Un-Round)

From my Ravelry notes:

I liked the first version of The Round so much I decided to cast on another.

But… what happens in this one is going to be dictated by other people’s suggestions at the pub quiz.  I’ll cast on the amount of stitches they suggest, knit the amount of rows that they want and make it to their specifications rather than mine. I will change colours when they say and make the buttonholes to their request (size and placement).

Given that I usually knit this at the pub, random suggestions are making it all the more entertaining!

So, they asked me to stop knitting. I did.
Then they said: Cut it in half. Er… okay.

I think its quite good actually!



I’m planning to make a pair of wrist-warmers this time with the crowdsourced instructions which will come out with all kinds of weird patterns on them: I hope! There’s still a bit more planning to do, but I’ll be setting that up and executing it within the next couple of weeks.

It seems that quite a few other people have had similar kinds of ideas for knitting just recently: playing with making patterns or being influenced by social media.

How about knitted tweets? Knitters in the north of England, organised by the glittyknittykitty blog came together at the Shipley Art Gallery for an evening event which included freeform knitting something in 140 stitches or under. You can see one of Brendadada’s knitted tweets here.

Then, last week I found knitting dice, which are available from Knitivity. Basically, you throw a set of five dice to determine where your pattern goes. I’d love to have a go with some of these!

Lastly though is Lee Meredith’s new e-book Game Knitting.

Orange Game-Knitted Hat by Lee Meredith. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Orange Game-Knitted Hat by Lee Meredith. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Its concept is ace. In her own words:

The easiest way I’ve found to describe how game knitting works is this:
You make a list of reoccurring things that happen in a TV show, as if you are going to play a drinking game to the show (drink each time something on the list happens), and you want it to be a crazy night!  Which means, if you really were to turn your list into a drinking game, you’d either want to take very small sips of light beer, or you’d be too drunk to play after a couple of episodes.  So, once you have this game list, you design a knitting pattern around doing/changing something in your work every time something on the list happens.  This may be as simple as switching from knit to purl stitches, or making an eyelet hole, or something a bit more complex, like cabling or turning your work for a short row.  Just don’t try actually playing a drinking game as you game knit!

So, I tried this out while I was watching Strictly Come Dancing with my family at the weekend. Casting on for a sideways hat, I knitted an eyelet every time one of the following happened:

  • Len Goodman said ‘seven.’
  • Someone went wrong during the dance performance.
  • Bruce Forsythe made a dire joke.
  • One of the professional dancers got feisty with the judges.
  • One of the dancers came on in something akin to a tablecloth.
  • Craig Revel-Horwood said something bitchy about the performance.
  • There was actual paso music for the paso doble.
  • Tess said that the judges’ scores were in.
Strictly Come Knitting Hat

Strictly Come Knitting Hat

I was knitting in a mid-grey, and you can’t really see very clearly the patterning of the eyelets whilst it is being knit. I think it will come out more when it is blocked. In the meantime, above is a glaring photo in front of the window so you get the general idea. I’m going to continue with it next week, but with shows of two and a half hours each week right up until Christmas I think I’m going to end up with a whole lot of Strictly Come Knitted items!


The Dive: @Platea Project IV

The Dive: 1

The Dive: 1 by Ingrid Murnane

For the next few days I’m taking part in The Dive, @platea’s latest project. Here’s what @platea director, An Xiao has to say about it:

As the summer comes to an end in the northern hemisphere and the fall art season heats up, the steering committee and I thought it might be fun to have one last hurrah with a public dive through social media. The performance will be September 8 to 10, and we’re asking our performers to use the real-time news feed as a visual performance space for diving.

Just think about it: you go online, you check your Facebook and FriendFeed feeds, and as the day goes on, each status update and picture post slowly makes its way down. If it’s a busy day and you have a lot of friends, these updates slide down quickly. If it’s a slow day, they get there eventually. Imagine a picture of yourself diving through this space, gradually making your way down your friends’ news feeds.

Sounds kinda fun, huh?

I think so! Are you taking part too?

Find out more about it on the @platea blog where there is a list of performers, and follow @platea on Twitter and join the Facebook or Ravelry groups to watch the performance take shape.


From Skein to Ball of Yarn

from Twisted in Portland, Oregon.

This is splendid!
I really love Lego, but didn’t have the mechanised type growing up. Just imagine the My Little Pony carriages I could have built if I had! After seeing this video, I’m very tempted to go and buy some now. I’ve been thinking about making my own swift for a while, however I have to admit that if I had a yarn winder it might just sit there…

Alright, I have a confession. I like to wind my yarn by hand. It’s such an integral part of the process of knitting for me that I think that a yarn winder might distance me from the yarn. I’m not sure if I’m being silly here or not because I’ve never tried using one, but the personal contact through winding seems important to me.
Does anyone else have this quandry?


Name that yarn

Until this past weekend, I had never seen Star Wars. Yeah. I’ll let you take that in for a while.

Yes, I knew all the major spoilers and references that inevitably come up in conversation every so often, but those more subtle ones? They just passed me by. I’ve a great friend who is a bit of a Star Wars geek and he decided that enough was enough. He wasn’t explaining anymore and I really ought to see the films. On Sunday we sat down and watched Episodes IV- VI, breaking only to eat and walk dogs.

You know what? It was great and in fact my worst fears were unfounded (those being that as I am a 33 year old woman and not an 8 year old boy I would think the films were boring). In fact I really liked the last two in particular.

Another friend had brought her spinning wheel over and she and I spun yarn while we watched the DVDs. It was pretty relaxing and lent a strangely intense rhythm to the viewing.

Star Wars and Humbug yarns

Star Wars and Humbug yarns

I ended up drop spinning and plying the fatter skein of yarn, now named ‘Star Wars’ during the three films. There’s about  84 yards of 2 ply DK weight alpaca there. As you can see, I named it after what I was watching at the time of its making; after the whole experience of that Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that before but it felt right. Usually I’ll name the yarn in relation to its colourway (such as the dark and light yarn on the right ‘Humbug’), or sometimes after a thing that it reminds me of in texture or drape.

I rather like the concept of naming the yarn after what I’m either listening to or watching while I spin. Often it is a film or TV programme. It calls to mind the textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood whose work often is titled by song lyrics.

I do wonder though, how much the name of the yarn influences what will be made using it. I have no immediate plans for ‘Star Wars’ nor for ‘Humbug’, which it tones well with. There could be some interesting mash-ups if I put the two together and thought about it too much! It is sure to be epic though.


Dyeing with Food Colouring Tutorial

I knit, I sew, I spin, sometimes I even crochet. It was really only a matter of time before I started to dye. Strangely enough, it was the one part of my Textile Art degree that I really disliked. It was messy, time-consuming and frankly, I wasn’t much good at it. Perhaps because I didn’t persevere for long enough.

Recently I have been frustrated that I can’t find the right colours in commercial yarn that I want for my projects. The green isn’t lettuce enough, the blue has too much yellow undertone, or there is always the same  mustardy brown in every variagated colourway of Noro (I dare you to tell me I’m wrong on that one).

I decided to take another look at dyeing. It seemed the only way. Knitty have a good tutorial on dyeing yarn. I adapted this and mixed in some elements from a 1970s handicraft book of my Mum’s to come up with my own recipe for dyeing using food colouring. It is cheap, fun and doesn’t require any special ingredients or equipment.

You will need:

  • Wool yarn (light coloured)
  • Large microwave-safe bowl
  • Jugs for mixing colours
  • Cup measures
  • Colander (optional)
  • Teaspoons
  • White vinegar
  • Food colouring (liquid kind)
  • Water
  • Access to a stainless-steel sink and a microwave*

*You can also do this on the hob, but I’m not sure of the timings.

This recipe dyes about a 50g skein of wool, but you can always adjust the measurements for more.

1. Make the yarn into a skein for easier handling. Use either a niddy-noddy or wind it round the back of a chair. Tie it loosely in four places.

2. Soak the yarn in a mixture half and half of white vinegar and water for a couple of hours, making sure it is completely wet. The vinegar acts as a mordant which keys the yarn to take up the dye.

3. Mix 1 1/2 cups of water with 1/3 cup of vinegar and your food colouring. Depending on the colour intensity required, use up to about a teaspoon. If like me you want to use multiple colours, divide the water and vinegar mix into smaller jugs before adding the colouring.  Test the colour with the corner of a piece of kitchen roll and adjust as you need.

4. Before dyeing, gently squeeze out the yarn and place it into the bowl. If you are using mutliple dyes, arrange it as you see fit.

5. Pour on the colours as you wish. If using only one colour you can turn over the skein a couple of times to ensure even coverage.

6. Microwave on full power for 5 minutes. Allow to cool before repeating for another 5 minutes.

7. After cooling, drain and rinse the yarn in cold water in the sink until the dye is out.

This may take some doing, especially with yellows, it seems…

8. Gently squeeze the excess water in a towel and air dry the yarn flat.

Ta-Da! The finished product. It has been nicknamed ‘Piccalilli’ by my Mum after the violently coloured condiment that my Nan was so fond of making.  Personally I prefer ‘Nasturtium’.

This yarn will go on to be used for knitted brooches and probably some cat toys. I haven’t tried washing any of the yarns that I’ve dyed in the machine as yet, so I can’t tell you how they fare. I probably wouldn’t recommend knitting socks out of it unless you were sure about the washing! The combination of heat and vinegar is meant to make the dye colourfast, but never say never.

I hope you have fun making your own colour combinations or overdyeing those boring wools in your stash to recycle them into something vibrant and new.

P.S. If you are messy like me, you can get the food colouring off your hands (or face) with biological washing powder.


if you were wondering…

—–BEGIN KNITTER’S GEEK CODE BLOCK—–

Version: 1.1

KER+++$ Exp+++ SPM+++ Steel++@ Wood+ Syn Wool++ Lux++ Stash(+) Scale++ Fin Ent+ Tex+++$ Lace+@ Felt+ Flat- Circ+++ ML1++ Swatch+ KIP+++ Blog+ SNB EZ- FO++ WIP+++ GaugeDK(W) ALTCr(-) Q+@ !X Em Sw+ Sp+>++

——END KNITTER’S GEEK CODE BLOCK——

This is what my knitter’s geek code currently looks like: my knitting identity, materials, techniques and habits. Will be interesting to see how it changes over time.

Knitty article on Knitter’s Geek Code by Kate A.
Original Geek Code by Robert Hayden


Hopes/dreams/fears

hopes/dreams/fears

hopes/dreams/fears

@Platea are launching Project iii: hopes/dreams/fears. This time it is not a performance in the way that Co-Modify was, more of a public participatory art project. There isn’t the sustained performance aspect this time, cos we know you’re busy people! You can take part once, or many times. It’s entirely up to you.

An Xiao and the @Platea steering committee will be collecting people’s hopes, dreams and fears in the form of status updates. We’ll be doing it in real life at gatherings of people (from festivals to dinner parties) and also online in forum groups, like in the  Ravelry @Platea group. The status updates will appear during July on a special facebook page, so you can see the hopes, dreams and fears of people all round the world.

It would be interesting to find out your hopes/dreams/fears, as a group of textile art blog readers. If you’d like to take part, all you have to do to is:

1. Fill out the form here (you can do this anonymously or using a pseudonym if you would prefer).

2. Join the hopes/dreams/fears Facebook group.

3. Wait to see yours and others’ hopes, dreams and fears broadcast over the next month and a half in your Facebook feed.

‘IngridNation hopes that you might like to participate.’


“hopes/dreams/fears” begins in New York City on June 12 during the FIGMENT NYC arts festival on Governor’s Island and it runs till the end of July with participants across the world. Members of online public art collective @Platea are gathering individuals’ hopes, dreams and fears in the form of status update language (i.e., “Jessica hopes that she graduates with honors next year.” “Fred fears he might lose his job due to the recession”). These will then be broadcast to a broader audience via a Facebook page, with the goal of uniting diverse groups via social media and offering a collective picture of communities’ hopes, dreams and fears during this time of economic crisis and transition.

There’s lots more about @Platea if you visit http://plateastweets.blogspot.com


Georgius: Coffee Cup Cosy Variation

Here are the instructions for the George Coffee Cup Cosy in the stitch pattern Roman Rib: Georgius, if you will. It’s a stitch pattern that looks pretty complicated but is very easy to knit and makes a dense fabric which is great for coffee cup insulation.

Georgius Coffee Cup Cosy

Georgius Coffee Cup Cosy

Georgius Coffee Cup Cosy

Materials

Leftover chunky/bulky yarn: takes around 30-40m as a guide (also works with 2 strands of DK held together, as above)

4.5mm-5mm needles

6 small buttons and embroidery thread for sewing

Abbreviations

k = knit

p = purl

yo = yarn over (wrap yarn around working needle once)

k2tog = knit two stitches together

kfb = knit front and back in same stitch (to increase)

Georgius: flat view

Georgius: flat view

Pattern

Cast on 32 stitches

Row 1: knit all stitches

Row 2: k3, yo, k2tog, k to end

Row 3: purl all stitches

Row 4: kfb, *k1, p1* to last stitch, kfb

Row 5:*k1, p1* to last stitch

Repeat rows 2-5, 4 times (21 rows total)

Row 22: k3, yo, k2tog, k to end

Row 23: knit all stitches

Cast off

Weave in ends and add buttons at appropriate places.

n.b. If you are making a mug cosy, repeat rows 2-5 only twice.

As usual, please feel free to knit up the coffee cup cosies to keep or as gifts/charity fundraising, but please do not knit up for commercial purposes or reproduce the pattern without first seeking permission.

Copyright © Ingrid Murnane 2009. All rights reserved.


George: a Basic Coffee Cup Cosy Pattern

The inspiration for this coffee cup cosy was twofold. Firstly, my Mum doesn’t find it easy to grip a coffee cup without a handle and was trying to think of a solution. Secondly, although I rather like take-away coffee and hot chocolate, I don’t like the free advertising that the companies are getting from me on their cups.  This coffee cup cosy rectifies both of the problems in one pattern.

Following in the spirit of my grandad George (who would cut labels off everything and always turned supermarket bags inside out before using them) I have always liked to obilterate logos. Those of you who followed me in the @Platea Co-Modify performance, may well be surprised by this (but do remember, it was a performance and I couldn’t care less whose yarn I am using). However, those who know me in real life will find it difficult to think of any clothing or accessories which I have with a logo or visible label left intact.

George Coffee Cup Cosies

George Coffee Cup Cosies

So now you know the background, on to the instructions!

I’ve made this a really simple pattern which can be knitted up in around an hour, so would be great for a last minute present and is easy enough to knit in front of the tv or at the cinema. It is marvellous for stashbusting: it takes around 30 metres of yarn, give or take, but you could always use up lots of oddments by striping them. It is knitted flat, in stocking stitch and six buttons are added for closure. It fits a regular or large sized take away-cup, and as you can see, you can tailor it to be smaller and it fit through the handle of a mug too. This would be a great beginner pattern, teaching casting on and off, knit and purl stitches, kfb increases and eyelets.

Basic Shape for Coffee Cup Cosy

Basic Shape for Coffee Cup Cosy

Materials

Leftover chunky/bulky yarn (also works with 2 strands of DK held together, as above)

4.5mm-5mm needles

6 small buttons and embroidery thread for sewing

Abbreviations

k = knit

p = purl

yo = yarn over (wrap yarn around working needle once)

k2tog = knit two stitches together

kfb = knit front and back in same stitch (to increase)

Pattern

Cast on 32 stitches

Row 1: knit all stitches

*Row 2: k3, yo, k2tog, k to end

Row 3: purl all stitches

Row 4: kfb, k to last stitch, kfb

Row 5: purl all stitches*

Repeat rows 2-5, 4 times (21 rows total)

Row 22: k3, yo, k2tog, k to end

Row 23: knit all stitches

Cast off

Weave in ends and add buttons at appropriate places.

n.b. If you are making a mug cosy, repeat rows 2-5 only twice.

So, let me know how it goes if you decide to make one: would love to see pics if you have them! I will add some alternative stitch patterns for the cosy over the next week.

Please feel free to knit up the coffee cup cosies to keep or as gifts/charity fundraising, but please do not knit up for commercial purposes or reproduce the pattern without first seeking permission.

Copyright © Ingrid Murnane 2009. All rights reserved.


from hibernation to reinvention

I won some sock yarn in a competition a few years ago, but as I hadn’t tried socks at that point (and the mere thought of sock-knitting scared the be-jesus out of me) I decided to knit it up as a first lace project.

Lace Scarf of Doom

The Leafy Lace Scarf

I chose this pretty leaf pattern, which seemed easy enough and used my new red needles which made a great contrast to the mossy greens in the yarn. It all went quite well to begin with. Well, once I had got the hang of reading a lace chart anyway… I knitted away happily on the train and the bus and in front of the TV. The scarf was to be a present for my partner at the time who liked green leafy things and who had a coat which this would match really well.

So far so good…until we split up. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the infamous ‘Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater‘. Well I don’t really think that I can blame it on that, (or in this case perhaps the ‘Curse of the Girlfriend Scarf’) as I’d already knitted her a bag. But in any case, as you would imagine after the breakup I didn’t want to knit any more of it. Retitled ‘The Lace Scarf of Doom’ it was effectively put into hibernation as an UnFinished Object.

So, why am I telling you this?

Well the other day I happened across the UFO Project Administration Service which is a really interesting art project set up by Rachael Matthews of Prick Your Finger yarn shop.

UFO Project Administration Form

UFO Project Administration Form

The basic premise is that you can send in a UFO which you have totally given up on, or sign up to finish somebody else’s UFO. You sign up for an invitation and are sent a specially designed form on which you fill in details about both yourself and your UFO (or the kind of thing you might like to knit of somebody else’s). Rachael will then matchmake knitter with UFO. The brilliant thing about this is that you don’t have to continue to knit the original pattern: you can be as inventive as you like. Jumpers with extra arms, parts of tea cosies made into bags, using a totally different yarn to continue, crocheting something that was started in knitting; the possibilites are endless. Of course you can just continue to knit the original too, if you like. As you have probably guessed, I have decided to send in the Lace Scarf of Doom for somebody else to have a try with and I’m also going to ask for somebody else’s UFO to work on.

The Red Round: another possible contender

The Red Round: another possible contender

What I find so interesting to about this whole idea is that the unloved, unwanted knitted object now could gain a new lease of life and its social life and object biography will be added to in an unexpected direction. Every UFO will have a story behind it: that of its making, the yarn that was used, how the pattern was picked, about the person who knitted it, why they made it and what was going on in their life as they knit. As a UFO going through the Project Administration Service it will now have many added layers of history. Who knows what will happen to the Lace Scarf of Doom, but one thing is sure: it will be much more interesting than had I just finished knitting it to its intended pattern. I can’t wait to see what someone else does with it!

There will be an exhibition at the Jerwood Space in London from 10th June – 19th July 2009, which will also tour Britain and which will feature some of the now-finished UFOs.


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