So what’s been keeping me busy these days, so busy that I’ve neglected this blog horrendously and my blogging friends even more than usual? Well, I’ve been frantically making new stock, but I’m always doing that. The truth is, I’ve also been building another website, and it’s just recently gone “live”.
Brilliant Aether is going to be a bit of a departure from The Birds In The Meadow, but I like to think the two sites will complement each other nicely. There’s been an element to my creativity that’s gone unexpressed here – the part that loves living in a city, that wants to run with ideas that would not fit on a nature blog, and wants to make things to sell that would be out of place in The Birds In The Meadow’s shop. For instance, there’s been a Steampunk section in The Birds In The Meadow ever since it opened and it’s been one of the most popular sections in the shop, but to fully explore the more fantastical and costume like aspects of my craft I really have to take it elsewhere; thus the Brilliant Aether shop was born. There isn’t a huge amount of stock just yet and the blog has barely started but I hope it’s going to gather momentum nicely. And I’d love it if you dropped in and said hi!
The Birds In The Meadow may have been a little slower than usual while I worked on the new site, but the making never stopped and the arrival of summer (a chilly summer, but summer nonetheless) galvanised me to make some new summery stuff. I’ve been hanging on to a pair of absolutely gorgeous vintage clip on earrings for a while now and I’ve wanted to give them a new life as cocktail rings but the right ring backs just never came my way. Until now that is, and here’s what they look like now (excuse my horrid dishpan hand)
The arrival of swallows after their gruelling migration from Africa a month ago filled me as ever with happiness and awe… so much better than shock and awe, don’t you think? I have a whole blog post to write about that in fact… but not now. To celebrate I made these necklaces; I called them “Always Coming Home” after the book by Ursula K LeGuin…
…and to celebrate the first rose appearing in our front yard, I made this necklace
And there is more to come! But not now, as I think you’ve probably had enough to read as it is, so I’ll thank you for reading this far down and take my leave.
I promised to show you the hat that I was knitting, so here it is. After three attempts, two complete unravvelings and a trip into town for the purchase of more wool (I ran out half way through) it is finally done. Hurrah!
I found a lovely easy pattern on Ravelry which I used as a guide, but I realised I’d need to use a bit of initiative to get the effect I wanted with the yarn I’d chosen and after a bit of panic figured out what it was I needed to do. I’d wanted to adapt the hat anyway, from a classic roll up beanie to a slouchy hat. It came out more like a beret, but on the person it’s intended for it will look more as I had first imagined. This person I should add has an enormous noggin and mine is ridiculously small, so in these pictures I am pretty much drowning in the hat!
I have not been knitting long but I really enjoy taking a pattern and improvising ’till I get the effect I want, it isn’t so hard to do and I’d recommend using a pattern more as a guideline to anyone – it’s increased my knitting confidence no end since I realised it is possible to do this. You can change yarn weight, needle size or number of stitches and get something very different looking to the original design. Want to know how I knitted this hat? Read on! (Oh, and this is the first time I’ve ever attempted to write down a knitting adventure so hopefully there are no glaring mistakes. All suggestions and help in this regard gratefully received)
Credit where credit is due:- the following is adapted from this easy to knit beauty here:- Eat… a Hat by Matataki. This is the best and most versatile beginners hat pattern I have ever found. Copyright for original pattern Eat…a Hat belongs to Matataki Design/Naomi Drew. She makes gorgeous, clearly written patterns… go see them, now!
Big Head Slouchy Hat
...for women with brains! Tired of all those cute hat patterns that are made for a teeny tiny noggin? Sigh no more, this will cozify all but the hugest of heads.
You will need:-
Size 6 circular needles, 40 cm long (US size 10, 16 ins long)
Size 6 double pointed needles for decreases (US size 10)
150 yards approx of double knit yarn, preferably something soft and drapey (not sure how else to describe the quality)
Stitch marker, or bit of contrasting wool will do the trick
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends
The Hat – Notes
This pattern will result in a hat to fit a large head, but can be made to fit a smaller head simply by decreasing the number of stitches you cast on by multiples of four. Also, you could improvise with needle size and yarn weight for different effects on the look of the stitches and drape of the hat.
Cuff:- Cast on 108 stitches on circular needles using long tail cast on or any loose stretchy method. Join in a circle, being careful not to twist the stitches, and mark the start of the round with a stitch marker or bit of contrasting wool.
Proceed in *K2, P2* rib (2×2) for 3 inches or to taste, depending on how long you prefer your cuff to be. Next, you’ll need to add some stitches to get the required level of slouch!
R1: *K 18, k1f&b* to end
R2: K all stitches
R3: *K2, P2* to end
R4:*K2, P2* to end
You should have 120 stitches on the needle.
Main body of hat:- following the stitch pattern below, knit your hat to the desired length – I would recommend you knit about 5 inches in the main body pattern.
R1: K all stitches
R2: K all stitches
R3: *K2, P2* to end
R4:*K2, P2* to end
When you have knitted to the desired length, switch to the stitch pattern below. At some point, you will want to switch to your double pointed needles as the number of stitches becomes too few to work on the circulars.
R1: *K2, P2tog*
R2: *K2, P1*
R3: *K2tog, K1*
R4:-*K all stitches*
At this point, continue as follows until you have about 6 stitches on the needles
R1:- K all stitches
Gather live stitches with your tapestry needle, pull tight, weave in the ends and you’re finished.
If you have a go at knitting this hat let me know how you get on, I’d love to know - especially if you improvise!
This autumn I learned to knit, and I couldn’t have picked a better winter to knit through! My first creation was a lurid stripy scarf in garter stitch which I won’t terrify you with even though I still get a glow of pride when I look at the damn thing – and since then I’ve been knitting full tilt. Many dodgily knitted and questionably coloured items of cold weather wear later, I think I may have finally got the hang of it.
What I mean by that is that I am capable of following a pattern – I’m still quite messy but since I finished my first successful hat (and have worn it with childish pride ever since) I have to admit I’m quite obsessed.
Coming from a family of demon knitters – my mum always had a pair of needles in her hand and my sister in law can knit an aran sweater without a pattern – I’ve always been in awe of those with the mysterious power to create using only sticks and wool. My childish efforts would result in saggy not-quite-squares riddled with ladders and holes, which would be quietly put away and never mentioned again.
But just look at me now; I do a mean 2×2 rib and recently discovered circular knitting – oh the joy of not having to bother with seams! I’ve made a couple of hats as gifts and will now have to make one more since R lost the one I made for him and started nagging for another (ok that’s not strictly true – I jumped at the chance)
So what’s this I’m making now? I promised fellow knitter Holly of Earth To Holly fame that I’d show my current project if she showed hers, so here it is, a slouchy hat on circular needles made from my first posh yarn – alpaca! I’ve only just started, but I promise you’ll see it when it’s done. It’s a gift that I promised someone ages ago so I just hope I get the thing finished before spring comes.
“…When the working day is done, girls – they want to have fun, Oh girls just want to have fun!”
There’s something about old vinyl that makes me want to start jumping around, singing into my hairbrush – perhaps it dates me but those shiny black discs make me come over all nostalgic. Sigh. In my search for scratched records to cut up and recycle into jewellery I’ve found many 45′s that I couldn’t bear to break up, and until now they’ve sat there in a forlorn pile, gathering dust. There just had to be a use for them, and now I’ve found it! I’ve been making them into clocks.
What could be more appropriate? As a way of listening to music they may have been overtaken by other formats but as objects they are deliciously evocative of time. Where were you when the above record was released – were you even born then?
I still listen to my old vinyl and cherish it as I’m sure many do, and I would never recycle a record that is still playable – to someone, I know, that record is an old friend and I’ll leave it in the second hand shop so that they can find it. But any distressed beauties come home with me - a pretty centre, a great title, a cool band or song or just something that’s funny or seems evocative, because these lovely, scuffed old relics deserve a second chance.
Want to buy a record clock? Just click on the pictures above and you will be taken to the appropriate part of the shop, or click here… Rock Around The Clock
Making a recycled stuffed toy from vintage fabric scraps, a free pattern and a dash of imagination… Recently I got a surprise present through my letterbox, a jiffy bag stuffed with vintage and recycled fabrics – my friends know I am a vulture for fabric scraps so I often get such parcels! I’m making it into a cute stuffed toy that would make a good present for a small child, and I thought I’d share the process. It’s possible to make stuffed toys for next to nothing if you are crafty and use a bit of imagination. First, get some fabric and launder well! Good places to look are thrift shops or even your own wardrobe, and old item of clothing that you’ll never wear again might be made from beautiful fabric – the same goes for cushions, really anything fabric is fair game to your needle and scissors.
I got the free pattern from One Red Robin, a lovely craft blog that has a couple of really good downloadable patterns – all the author asks is that you do not use her patterns for commercial purposes. It’s an easy to make rag doll pattern, and though I like the original I’m giving it my own twist; by simplifying the body and adding some ears I’m going to turn it into a rabbit. This is a show ‘n’ tell rather than a tutorial so I won’t be going into much detail; basically if you are interested I’d just say download the pattern and have a go for yourself!
First off I traced the pattern pieces on to some old wrapping paper – the plain sort that shopkeepers use to wrap around loose crockery, bottles of wine, that sort of thing. If you get hold of any of that stuff save it! It’s strong enough to be used as a template and thin enough to trace onto, so it’s ideal. Because I am making my bunny out of cute recycled fabric scraps it’ll cost very little to make and be environmentally friendly too! Here’s all the bits cut out and ready to sew…
I haven’t yet decided how I am going to make the face, or any other embellishments I might add; I’ll be thinking about that while I stitch it together. Want to find out how I get on? I’ll be sure to let you know when I’m finished, so stay tuned!