Baby stuff and an amethyst shawl pin

Boy bib

I’ve had a lot of work to do this week, including a trip to Wales and a few sessions on the laptop this weekend. It hasn’t left a lot of time for crafting, but I did manage to make a boy version of last week’s baby bib (not yet pressed, I’m afraid).

This one fastens with the type of press stud (aka snap, popper) that you attach with a hammer – always a satisfying process, and a lot less fiddle than sewing on Velcro dots.

I’m not sure about the applique design though. I positioned the tie quite low, to allow room for a top button, but maybe that was a mistake. I think the next one will either have a higher tie and no buttons, or maybe a bow tie with buttons below it.

Kimono-shaped baby jacket

Patons Crofter 4-ply yarnAlso on the baby theme, I’ve started a knitted jacket. I found a ball of Sirdar’s Crofter Baby 4-ply in a yarn shop’s bargain bin and couldn’t resist it. There isn’t enough for a whole garment though, even a 1-3 months one, so I’m going to work stripes with plain white.

The pattern I’ve chosen is Garter Stitch Baby Kimono. I’ll fasten it with a button and loop instead of the buttonholes that the pattern indicates, because that way I can leave the boy/girl element until the end, by which time the baby should have arrived.

Amethyst shawl pin

The only other thing I’ve managed to make in the last week is a simple shawl pin for the lilac mohair scarf I knitted recently.

Lilac mohair scarfIt’s really too short to tie, being more of a neck-warmer than a scarf, which means it was crying out for a pin to hold it closed. I’ve made one from a bamboo barbecue skewer and a few amethyst chip beads. Gemstone chips are very cheap to buy and I love to mix them with more expensive gemstone beads, so I generally have a few leftovers around.

I sawed a length off the blunt end of the skewer, using a serrated kitchen knife on a chopping board. I could have got out a saw, but why bother? Then I rounded the cut end into a blunt point using a Swiss file. An emery board or nail file would have done just as well.

I gave the whole thing a rub over with fine grade sandpaper to make it absolutely smooth, then dyed it a nice dark brown by applying two coats of some walnut wood dye I’ve had since forever. I did consider waxing it after that, to give it a sheen, but was afraid that might make it too slippery to be effective as a shawl pin.

Shawl pinFor the beaded head, I just threaded several amethyst chips onto some fine beading wire, wrapping the wire between the beads, to create a roughly circular arrangement that would hold its shape. Then I twisted the two ends of the wire together.

Archimedean drill and bitsThe next job was to drill a small hole down the blunt end of the bamboo pin. I have a set of very small, modellers’ drill bits and a tiny hand drill with an Archimedean action – you hold it between finger and thumb and then pump it up and down to make it spin, like an old-fashioned Yankee screwdriver.

It was perfect for this job, but I expect my Dremel would have done just as well with a pin in the chuck as a substitute bit. (A nail in a full-sized drill will produce a surprisingly good hole, when there’s no suitable bit to hand.)

I tested the depth of the hole with a pin and then trimmed the twisted wires to the same length, dripped superglue onto them and slid them into the hole.

Mohair scarf and shawl pinResult: one cheap-and-cheerful shawl pin to match the mohair neck-warmer.

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Pretty baby bibs

There’s a baby on the way in my family.  Sssshhh, not everyone knows yet.  But I thought I’d get a head start and make some bibs.  Babies need lots of bibs, don’t they?

I don’t know whether this new arrival is a girl or a boy.  Its parents possibly do, but not me and I’m not going to ask, if they want to tell me they will.  But I have lots of flowery cottons and broderie anglaise so I thought I’d make some pretty, girly bibs to start with.  This is the design I came up with.

Baby bibThe inside – the side that will be against the wee one’s body – is made from sweatshirting, with the brushed side facing outwards.

Girl bib 2It will be nice and soft and also quite absorbent.  I’ve had this remnant of sweatshirting for years, ever since I bought enough to make a T-shirt and shorts for my dear husband to wear in the gym and then never got around to making the T-shirt.  (The fact that he was quite rude about the bagginess of the shorts probably didn’t help.  But who needs to look stylish in the gym?)

The flowery side is cut from fabric left over from a summer blouse I made for myself in the 1990s.  I sewed a pleat down the centre and slipped the broderie anglaise under each edge of it, then added buttons – sewn on very securely – to make it look like a buttoned opening down the front of a dress.  This baby is going to feel very grown up in her bib, except for the fact that she’ll be too small to know that little girls wear flowery dresses, of course.

ShirtingBut what if new baby is a boy not a girl?  Fortunately, I found some scraps left from a couple of striped business shirts I made for myself around about the same time as the flowery summer blouse.

Continuing with the same theme, I’m going to applique on a tie instead of the lace trim.

The bibs fasten with Velcro dots at the back.  I’ll make half a dozen of each type because they’re not going to stay clean for longer than 5 minutes.  Much nicer than plain shop-bought versions, don’t you think?

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The last mohair scarf

I’ve finally used up the mohair I bought in about 1984.  The last of the 4 scarves, in red yarn, is in a diamond and bead stitch which has opened up beautifully in blocking.

Mohair scarf in diamond and bead stitchNow, what to knit next?

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Mohair – legacy of the 80s

Younger readers might not know this, but in the 1980s we liked fluff and frizz.  Our hair was poodle-permed and we wore a lot of mohair. (I know, the past is another country …)  I’m ashamed to say that I even knitted a few sweaters in brushed acrylic.

I have my own personal legacy from this period in the shape of several part balls of mohair yarn.  I used up one a few months ago by knitting a small scarf in a classic Shetland all-over lace pattern, Cat’s Paw.

blue-mohair-2The other day I came across the remains of my 30-year-old mohair stash and decided it was time it went.  To that end I have been knitting more small scarves and using them to try out different Shetland stitches.  I’m restricting myself to all-over patterns to use up as much of the yarn as possible.

The first of this new batch of scarves is a lilac version of Mrs Montague’s Pattern from Barbara Walker’s “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns“.  Ms Walker tells us that Mrs Montague was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria who knitted her monarch a pair of stockings in this pattern.

Lilac mohair scarf 1

Shawl pinI chose to knit a garter stitch version because I like scarves to be reversible, as far as possible.  I simply don’t have the patience to have to think about whether a scarf is right side out when I tie it around my neck. There wasn’t much of the lilac mohair and the end result is more of a neck-warmer than a scarf.  I’m planning to make a shawl pin with some amethyst beads to fasten it, something like the one I made to wear with my green Nanook cardigan.

These scarves are really quick to knit on big needles – 6 or 6.5mm – and each one is only taking me a couple of evenings.  The next one was also from Barbara Walker’s “Treasury” – she gives three variations of Miniature Leaf.

Green mohair scarf 1At present I’m knitting a red scarf in a diamond and bead pattern – like diamonds, but with a “bead” in the middle of each.  Unlike the other three scarves, this pattern involves working lace on every row rather than every other row, and I am purling on the reverse side rows.  It’s taking longer as a result, and I have more of the red yarn than the other colours so this will be a full length scarf.

Red mohair scarf 1

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Fidget spinner bearings

All the kids locally are playing with fidget spinners, as they are everywhere.  I’ve been wanting to make a yarn holder for a while, a stand that will hold a cone or ball of yarn and rotate to deliver the yarn smoothly and without twisting. For that, I need a bearing and it occurred to me that buying a fidget spinner might be a cheap way of acquiring a suitably small, smooth-running one.

After a few minutes’ Googling I discovered that you can buy the fidget spinner bearings separately – the more nerdish kids upgrade their spinners with high spec bearings to achieve longer spins – and the basic ones are very cheap, thanks to the huge market now that the fidget spinner craze has spread worldwide. I found a set of 3 on eBay for under 30p including postage all the way from China.

Fidget spinner bearingsThey arrived yesterday and I can’t remember when I was last so delighted with something costing so little. (Possibly when I found a pack of staples for 6p that fit the odd-sized stapler I’ve had since my student days, but that was about 10 years ago now.) You can see from the photo that they aren’t of great quality, but they will be fine for low-load, low-speed applications.

Old wooden bobbinThese bearings are the most common size for fidget spinners, 608, with a 22mm outside diameter and an 8mm bore. I chose them rather than the smaller R188 size (12.7mm outside diameter, 6.35mm bore) both because they are cheaper and because 8mm is a better size for the first thing I intend to make, the yarn holder, and also for the ball winder I’d like to build some day.  For the yarn holder I may re-purpose this old bobbin from a silk mill, or perhaps a cheap kitchen roll holder, or start from scratch if I can find a nice piece of hardwood. I know I bought some American white oak from Boddy’s not long ago, now where did I put it?

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One down, one to go

The first of my two chair covers is finished, apart from some sort of tab or ties to hold the rear pleat closed.  It needs a good press, but I’m pleased with it.  It certainly makes a rather horrible, cut-down, vinyl-upholstered dining chair presentable enough to go in a bedroom.

Chair cover 3

… now you don’t


Now you see it …








Chair cover 4As for the fastening at the back, I still can’t decide what’s best – a tab secured with a button or Velcro? ties or ribbons that can be tied in a bow? just a hook and eye?

I’m hoping that inspiration will strike by the time the second cover is made.

Vigneto Wrap

Knitting-wise, I’m making very slow progress with the lacy scarf I’m working on, called the Vigneto Wrap.

BdB 2It’s worked centre-out from a provisional cast on and I’m only a few inches into the first half.  I’m in a section that has a 52 row pattern repeat at present, with lace worked on every row.

It’s virtually impossible to knit it while doing anything else save breathing, which has made me a most unsociable member of my knitting group for several weeks now.  I’m inclined to give it a rest for a while by knitting something simpler that will allow me to speak while I’m in company and catch up with boxed sets on the TV when I’m alone.



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