I thought pretty assuredly that I was going to be the first person to complete my Heartgyle Socks. I was on course to finish them in five days, despite the fact that I had changed the cast on and restarted the toes more than once. […]
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In the list of words that strike fear into a good number of knitters, intarsia comes not too far after moths. Despite the dread, here we intrepid band of Boost Your Knitting adventurers go, headlong into knitting intarsia in the round [audible gasps ring out, a woman faints]. […]
June’s Boost Your Knitting project and accompanying technique was a beanie-style hat in DK weight yarn, simple in form other than the dip stitches that this month’s accompanying tutorial and learning materials teach.
This has been my first step back into knitting for a while after health issues left me unable to enjoy even gentle crafts or pastimes such as knitting or reading as I had been unable to look down. I was so, so very grateful to have such an immersive and achievable project to encourage me back to my needles.
Off We Go
Anybody who has experienced my knitting in real life or online knows that I do grumble about ribbing. It was only last night that I was laying in bed wondering if future me could get a cheap knitting machine *just* to knit the rib portion of projects. 1×1 rib is perhaps the most useful of all the rib stitches but of course that would have to mean that it is definitely the most tedious.
The fact that I made it past the ribbing section without deciding that, actually, knitting was perhaps not enjoyable to me any more was wholly due to it being my first experience of Fyberspates’ Vivacious DK yarn. What a lovely bounce the yarn has to it, and with just enough of a hint of variegation to keep each stitch standing proud and bring some depth to the miles and miles of knit one, purl one.
Learning How To Tuck Stitch
Performing Apple Swizzle’s tuck stitches involves knitting into a stitch that is not on the left needle, but instead several rows below, and in the case of Apple Swizzle, knitting into that stitch multiple times to produce the charming little clusters of elongated stitches that span multiple rows in the stitch pattern.
Care has to be taken to allow enough yarn into the tuck stitches for the preceding rows to lie flat, which allows the stitches, gathered together in a decrease further on in the stitch pattern, to form little lotus flower-like clusters.
Apple Swizzle was the perfect little knitting aperitif after a long drought. Enough to help me get a feel for my needles, and quick enough to leave me wanting to knit more.
The repeats of the chart seemed to whiz by, and before I knew it I was on to the decreases.
The crown shaping of this hat happens quickly. After 4cm of rib and 48 rounds of the main pattern, the decreases accelerate quickly over just 10 rounds. I thought this might give a slight gather to the top of the hat, but it seems to have blocked into a rounded crown shape with most of the potential gathering offset by the drawing in of the stitch pattern.
I used all of the remaining yarn after knitting a medium sized hat from a 100g skein to make a pompom. I used the largest of the standard size Clover pompom makers (blue) to make an 85mm pompom which I trimmed down slightly to round off the shape.
I’m please with myself for following my own rule of when in doubt: pompom, because I really like the balance of the hat with it’s bobble.
This hat is ready to be put away for golden autumn days. My little boy always ;loves to furnish his own head with a bobble hat as soon as it is cool enough outside, and then very much requires all accompanying members of his expedition party to do the same, so this hat will be in heavy rotation in a few short months.
Apple Swizzle is part of the Boost Your Knitting program series of patterns and techniques to learn on a month-by-month basis, hosted by Arnall-Culliford Knitwear. The accompanying knitalong is available to take part in on Ravelry and kits are available containing all yarns and patterns needed to complete the year of learning.
Do you have a favourite flower? I’m not entirely sure that I do, but these last few years I have favoured big, flouncy blooms, and things like peonies and hydrangeas have been high on my list of ones I’d love to have gracing my imaginary country kitchen. But like my large, spacious kitchen, the flowers have failed to materialise. I rarely have fresh flowers, and have never seen either peonies or hydrangeas for sale, so when I made some flowers for a paper Spring Wreath recently, I decided that I was also going to try to make a paper hydrangea.
A Hundred Tiny Flowers And More
Making the hydrangea was not for the faint-hearted, which is kind of ironic if you have been following my recent health issues, but though it was time consuming and fiddly, it was very, very rewarding.
I looked up various versions of paper hydrangeas online to get a guide or starting point. Sadly, every tutorial I found was behind a paywall, and though I am not at all averse for paying for patterns and project tutorials at all, they were all parts of services that allowed access to a whole site for a month or year for a price that was too much for me to pay for the sake of something I could do myself, and I was doubtful that I would make use of any of the other projects, so this project is made up of a lot of educated guesswork and a bit of trial and error.
One of the things I most love about hydrangeas is the wash of colour that each globe of flowers takes on. I think I read that it is determined by the PH level of the soil, acting like nature’s own Litmus paper. I love that way that each dome can drift in colour and intensity, and so I wanted a watercolour effect that shifted both in hue, from blue through to purple, but also in depth of colour with some paler blossoms alongside the more intensely coloured ones.
I started by cutting the watercolour sheet into 121 individual little blossom shapes of four petals. I used the Cricut machine because I cannot even imagine cutting those all by hand. Why 121? Because that’s the number that I could fit on my 30 x 30cm sheet of paper. Again, there are cutfiles available for a fee, and I used one that was included with the Cricut Access one month free trial. It worked perfectly, though I scaled up each bloom until it was 2.6cm in width.
The blossoms were then given a pale yellow-green centre and curled on the outside edges around the end of a fine artists paintbrush. I admit that this was a little tedious.
Eventually I had prepared all of my individual little flower heads (none of these are meant as technical terms, so gardeners, please forgive me – I have sadly never had a garden of my own). Arranging them into the familiar pillowed shape of the hydrangea involved a bunch of floral wires taped together – about 25, with the top 10cm of each wire bent out into a dome. I bent the tip of each wire into a little circle and then bent this circle out at 90º to the length of the wire, to resemble something akin to a teeny tiny metal detector.
I loosely arranged the little flowers into five groups of similarly coloured paper pieces and attached six or seven of one colour group to the ends of the floral wires using UHU glue.
I built on this, keeping each of the colour groups of petals roughly together, so that the hydrangea had subtle but defined areas of differing hue. Some of the flowers were joined to wires, most were not. Each flower was joined to the wire structure and/or neighbouring flowers by at least 2 (but up to five) points of contact.
It took a good few hours of work, but finally I got the ‘dome’ of the hydrangea finished.
If you embark upon something like this I would recommend that one of the handiest ideas I had whilst making this was to use sewing/quilting clips to hold each of the blooms as I worked, as the glue set.
I made the leaves from a beautiful heavy piece of textured green cardstock. To give a bit of extra dimension to the leaves I used some ‘distress ink’ that I had from making similar leaves for flowers when I married.
I used the same technique I did back then: lightly dabbing a make-up sponge into the ink pad, blotting this onto a ceramic plate, then moving the ink in small circles from the plate onto the edges of the leaves.
This gave a bit of extra dimension to the leaves and I finished with a gentle link of the ink down the centre crease of the leaves. I think a similar effect could be given with artists pastels or coloured pencils blended inwards from the edge.
I made five large leaves and assembled then joined them to the stem and to a few of the blooms to keep everything sturdy. And then I sat back and admired it.
The Completed Paper Hydrangea
And I am really so very happy with how it turned out. It’s just the right size, and just the right colour, and it’s just enough.
I love the way that the colours move when you approach it from different angles. From pale lilac, through purple to blue. I love the amount of air it has, making it look light, yet so substantial.
And it is strongly constructed. The day after I completed it I decided that it should be for my Ma, who has cared for me all year whilst I have been ill. As we went to get into the car a strong gust of wind lifted it out of the vase and it blew straight across the car park, but it was undamaged.
This hydrangea was an exercise in persistence, and patience, and in keeping in mind that everything was going to pull together in the end. And it ended up strong, and beautiful. And so I can think of no better reason to have made it than to say thanks to my ma for all the huge sacrifices she has made this year. We aren’t over it all, yet, but it’s been a great deal easier not being left alone to deal with it as a small nuclear family of three.