A toadstool, a matinee jacket and a wool fair

I’ve finished a couple of projects this week, as well as going to the Wharfe Wool Fair last Saturday.  The weather was gloriously hot, most unusually for early May, so I got my bike out and cycled over to Ilkley, this year’s fair venue.  It has moved from Otley to a larger hall to accommodate a few extra stalls.  I had a good look around and saw several knitting friends who were busy adding to their yarn stashes, but I managed to resist.  However, I did buy some felting needles before heading down to the riverside to enjoy a picnic in the sun.

The unseasonable hot spell has ended and we are back to more normal temperatures for a Yorkshire spring, i.e. chilly.  The plus side of that is that I’m no longer tempted to sit idly in the garden when not working and have no excuse for not progressing my craft projects.  Let’s start with the toadstool pincushion, which needed (IMHO) a caterpillar to liven it up.

A caterpillar for a toadstool

Failed caterpillars

Felted experiment on left, I-cord on right

I began by trying to felt a length of the green alpaca/wool I knitted into a cardigan last autumn, using one of the new felting needles.  It didn’t work, it just went all skinny and hairy.

Then I separated another length of the yarn into its three constituent strands and knitted one of them into a 3-stitch I-cord using my smallest (2mm) double-pointed needles.  It came out looking too smooth, more snake or worm than caterpillar.  I turned to the internet for images of Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar and inspiration struck: segments were needed, and colour variation.  I had a dig in my yarn stash and found this sock yarn which hasn’t yet been turned into a pair of socks – perfect.

Cozy ToezI tried working a round of purls every four rounds of the I-cord to provide segments, but that didn’t look right, just messy.  It also looked too loose, so I got out some cocktail sticks to use as knitting needles but discovered they were also 2mm.  Instead, I pulled the yarn very tight on each stitch while I continued to experiment.  Maybe just one purl stitch per four rounds, to provide a little bump to indicate a leg?  That seemed to be along the right lines, but the single purl stitch was barely apparent.

Toadstool 4I finally settled on three K3 rounds followed by a P2, K1 round, repeated for a couple of inches.

After darning a little black head onto the resulting I-cord and arranging it on the pincushion like a looper caterpillar, I think it looks quite realistic, don’t you?  You can see what it’s meant to be, anyway.

Because there’s a strong magnet in the base, the pincushion will rest securely on even a small piece of ferrous metal like the head of a screw.

Drops matinee jacket

I’ve also completed the matinee jacket I was knitting.  I used up all of the first lot of white yarn for the sleeves and body, and all but a small amount of the yellow for the yoke.  I debated whether it really needed a collar and decided that it did.  I had some other white 4-ply in my stash which looked a slightly different white when held against the sleeves and body in a good light, but fortunately the collar only comes into contact with the yellow yoke, and it’s garter stitch unlike the rest of the garment, so I doubt anyone will notice.

Drops matinee 3The Drops pattern calls for a crochet edging around the collar and cuffs.  This required me to sit in front of a YouTube video that demonstrated the double crochet and treble – I can never remember which stitch is which and the fact that American crochet terminology differs from the UK version doesn’t help at all.  Following the pattern for the cuffs resulted in a loopy edging which looked like it would catch small fingers very effectively, and it took almost all the remaining yellow yarn for the first sleeve.  I pulled it out and worked double crochets (that’s UK double crochets, known  confusingly as single crochets in the USA) around the cuffs instead, finishing with precisely 3” of yarn left.

The collar edge definitely needed a crochet trim to tidy it up.  I did it in the white yarn – I’d like to say because it shows up better against the yellow yoke, but actually that didn’t occur to me until afterwards.  If I’d had any yellow left, I’d probably have used it and then regretted it and pulled it out.

The pattern has some issues, particularly in the collar decreasings.  At one point it says that all decreases are done on the right side and tells you how to decrease at the start of a row without mentioning how to decrease at the end, and then it says to decrease at each end of every row.  Ah well, the end result is pretty enough, even if the instructions did take a bit of fathoming out.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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