Sunday, 8 May 2016

Return of the Flamingo

Soooo, I am writing a few blog posts up as a way of taking a break from writing my dissertation, which is driving me nuts - I know what I want to write, but getting the actual words on screen is just not happening.  It must be bad when I 'rewarded' myself with doing the dusting after a wrote my first 1000 words.  So far this morning I have also emptied the dishwasher, changed the bed and swept the kitchen floor, all just to procrastinate from writing this damned dissertation - Phil will be making me do more dissertations, just as a way of getting me to do some housework - I would much rather sew normally, but I made a promise to myself that I can't sew until I have got somewhere on this dissertation at least, or unless it is really stressing me out that the only way not to throw the laptop and books at something is to sew a few seams.

Anyway, one of my recent procrastination techniques has been to learn to knit.  My Mother-In-Law bought me loads of needles and a stitch counter for my birthday in December (she seems to buy me crafty stuff, and I like it).  My big sister taught me the basics and then I got bored of waiting for her to teach me something good so I took it upon myself to get on with a project.  I also seem  to suffer from the 'Mother Effect' with Kay, as in, if she is about I am pretty much guaranteed to do it wrong because she makes me nervous - my mother has the same effect - I think its the expectation of the 'constructive cristicism' that I am going to get even if I have done something perfect, so I might as well do something wrong to be criticised about.  This I accept.  But even the step-mother started on it with my knitting, so we are now in agreement that she is not to comment on my knitting skills.  The step-mother keeps commenting on my facebook posts about my knitting, but I am ignoring her!  Seems the best way.

So, this is my first attempted project (rather than just knitting rows for nothing), and it is far from perfect, but do you know what - I don't care.  I have done it all by my lonesome (with some assistance from YouTube tutorials) and yes there have been tears and tantrums, but I am proud of the end result.

This is the slightly adapted Flamingo Cushion from the Knitting Smitten book, which I purchased from Hobbycraft.  It was the Flamingo cushion that made me buy the book (as you should know by now, Flamingos and Unicorns are my spirit animals) but I cannot recommend this book enough for beginners.  There are loads of easy but interesting projects, and the instructions are mostly clear (my brain can't always understand written instructions too well when I am learning something new).  Each project tells you what skills you will be learning and I have already earmarked my next project.

Anyway, this particular cushion has the following skills:
Stocking Stitch
Wet Blocking
Swiss Darning

All of which are pretty new to me, but you don't learn unless you do.  

It is made using the loveliest yarn - Cashmerino Aran from Debbie Bliss, which I purchased from Laughing Hens (great customer service and speedy delivery - again, highly recommended and I will be ordering from them again).  I couldn't get the Rose colourway, as detailed in the book, but I substituted for Coral instead and I quite like the darker pink.

I have to admit that starting the ribbing took at least three attempts whilst trying to watch The Good Wife on Saturday afternoon, and in the end I gave up and put it to one side and did some sewing.  I came back to it the next day, YouTubed a tutorial and apart from a massive hole from missed stitches, I got it in the end.  You can't see the hole as it is covered by the buttonhole band, and I knew that was going to be the case so I decided my first project did not need to be perfect.  

It turned out to be a good job as I don't think there are two consecutive rows with the same number of stitches, but again, I don't care.  It is my first project and I decided quite early on that I had a plan to deal with the resulting holes - they would be covered by sequins.  If in doubt - add a sequin - and THAT is why I do panto costumes ladles and jellyspoons!

The knitting of the cushion panel probably took me about a month picking it up here and there whilst trying to fit it into my tres busy life at the moment, and to date I am far from the fastest knitter . . . one day maybe.  I even tried knitting on the train a couple of times but people attempting to sit on my knee made that difficult - I get that I am alluring and all that jazz (either that or invisible - most likely invisible), but a girl wants to knit :-)

So, it came to the buttonhole band.  Now, I am blaming the fact that I had just had my B12 injection and was simply exhausted, and I have also just been that way out of late, but this caused tears - lots of tears.  I could do the casting off section easy peasy lemon squeezy but my head just could not get around trying to cast on mid-row.  I googled and googled and googled, but all methods were casting on with your thumb - I was not taught to cast on avec le thumb and there was no way my head was going to learn that particular day - bear in mind I didn't even bother getting dressed that day - slept loads, showered, then put clean pyjamas on - that was my state of mind.

Anyway, after my tears it was hubby to the rescue.  I really don't know how he puts up with me - I am awful to him and then cry over buttonholes!  But he still sticks around and generally treats me like a princess, which I really don't deserve most of the time.  Well, I believe we should all be treated like princesses by our other halves, but I don't think I deserve it when I acting like the wicked witch/ogre that I know I can be.  

He found a tutorial for me, but I can't remember which one, sorry.  I still struggled with my first one, but my second and third buttonholes were perfect.  Thank you Philip.

Then it was time to block.  And testament to Phil, he didn't bat an eyelid when I wondered downstairs with towels and laid my wet rectangle of wool on it and added lots of pins - he never asks questions bless him.  He just lets me get on with it, until I paddy, and then he usually offers to help.

So, I let it dry on the living room floor (on a towel) for a day or two, then moved it upstairs to the craft room out of the way until I had time to do my swiss darning, which is how the flamingo ends up on the front.  For those non-knitters out there, swiss darning is where you sew over your stitches to create a picture, in this case following a colour chart in the book.  I have many plans for swiss darning pictures now.

The instructions in the book have you put the flamingo central, but I don't think my brain would cope with that.  If it was slightly off it would annoy me, so I decided to put it to one side instead.  Also, most of the holes were on one side, and I wanted to avoid them in my flamingo if possible, which I managed to do.   Again, the flamingo isn't perfect because I wasn't concentrating properly.  I think I was trying to watch The Flash at the same  time, or it could have been Grimm, or any other crap I watch on the televisual.  BUT it looks like a flamingo and this is good enough for me.

Next, to cover the holes I sewed on some turquoise sequins and then sewed up the side seams of the cushion and added the buttons which are from my stash, but I think went quite well with the overall look of the cushion.

And that is it.  I need a slightly smaller cushion pad as I bought the wrong size, but I can remedy that at a later time.

I am tres proud of myself on this one and am now on with my next project, the progress of which you can follow on my instagram should you so wish.

In the meantime . . . 

Happy Crafting!


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