So here once more is a story of stuff - an incurable obsession with the material, and I fear totally lacking in depth.
The story began some months ago when I signed up for the Pay It Forward at Poppy Cottage, and I am looking forward to receiving a little handmade something from Colette in due course. But not being one to let the grass grow under my feet (and feeling that probably it would take me some time to find some takers), you may remember I advertised for some victims, sorry potential recipients, here.
And at long last I have, much to my relief, completed my first PIF and sent it off to Heidi at Snowdrop Cottage. At one point I was getting a bit panicky, having also signed up for a couple of swaps, not to mention owing a prize to Colette in recognition of her familiarity with pheasant feeders. I think my new year's resolution will involve being more moderate in my ambitions.
But as you can see from my sidebar, I am gradually ticking them all off, and here is what I sent to Heidi. She told me that she would prefer a knitted present, and has a penchant for neutral colours. So I made two lavender hearts, using a free pattern from the Skein Queen, and Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton DK, with which yarn you know I have a love-hate relationship, so I made sure not to knit by candlelight again.
And because I have suddenly become fascinated by the concept of hand-knitted dishcloths (I have always imagined myself as a knit-your-own-dishcloth sort of person, yet this had remained theoretical rather than practical), I thought that I would knit Heidi a dishcloth. There is a free pattern for these rather nice waffle dishcloths by Deb at Homespun Living, which can be found here. And I used Lion Brand worsted weight cotton, which is available in the UK from Banyan Tree Yarns. It is a lovely easy pattern, suitable for novice knitters, but produces a rather fetching dishcloth which I think would be good for very wholesome, homespun presents. The sort of thing people expect from someone like me.
And last but not least is a little knitted brooch, using Skein Queen Duchess yarn in Dove, some crochet lace and a recycled button, and backed with some felt and a brooch pin. I made quite a few of these brooches last Christmas to match hats, scarves, etc, that I had knitted. It is a great way to use up those small amounts of yarn left over from other projects, not enough to make anything considerable, but which you can't bear to throw away.
The brooches are so simple to knit a beginner could do it: you need to cast on a multiple of 8 stitches - I would do 40 or 48 for DK yarn, with the needles you would use to get standard tension for the yarn, so 4mm for DK for me.
Then stocking stitch (knit one row, purl one row) for 8 rows.
Then in the next knit (RS) row knit the first 8 stitches then lift stitches 1-7 up and over the last stitch you have knitted (stitch 8) and drop them right off the needle. You will then have just one stitch on the RH needle and 32 or 40 on the left.
Knit a further 8 stitches, and do the same again - lift the first 7 (stitches 9-15) up and over the last stitch you have knitted and off the needle. You will now have 2 on the right needle and your original number of stitches less 16 on your LH needle.
Repeat this to the end of the row: you will then have 5 stitches left on the RH needle (if you started with 40) or 6 if you started with 48.
You don't cast off: just cut a decent length of yarn and thread it back through those 5 or 6 stitches twice over and pull it up.
This will form the knitting into a circle and you just have to stitch the join together. The edge curls up and it all forms a rosette shape.
To give a good anchor for the brooch pin, I sew a pinked circle of felt onto the back of the brooch using embroidery thread (2 strands). I sew the pin onto another slightly smaller circle of felt. I then sew the smaller circle onto the larger one - to stop the brooch flopping forward when you wear it, it is better if the pin is two-thirds of the way up the brooch back, rather than halfway.
The other two brooches are from some Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica: I knitted the General a hat from this last winter (which was not a success), then I knitted Princess Bunchy a beanie from the leftovers (both patterns from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson) and trimmed it with these brooches from the leftovers from that.
I am afraid that the photos of these have that fuzzy, taken at night, not enough light, quality. Maybe I should get one of those big umbrellas to give me the air of a real photographer.
If you want a bigger brooch, you can knit more rows of stocking stitch before decreasing, and you can use any thickness of yarn - this can also alter the size of brooch; it is quite fun to experiment. You can also use more than one colour to make stripes or edging.
Then use your imagination to embellish it - sometimes I cut a circle of felt with pinking shears and put the button on top of that, or you can gather the edge of a piece of ribbon or lace into a circle as I did for Heidi. And then top with a button - so it is also a good way of using up scraps of felt or ribbon, and odd buttons.
So have fun with that: I am sorry I didn't take photos of the manufacturing process; I will do better next time. And also try to be more profound.