Drunken triceratops

Well, legless anyway… I know, I know, I’m terrible at puns. Here’s the lovely Trixie.SONY DSC

I ran out of yarn AGAIN. I generally fly by the seat of my pants in terms of yarn requirements when I’m adapting patterns and every now and then it bites me. So far this wretched creature has eaten up far more of my limited yarn budget than I was planning for. We’re two bags of stuffing and seven balls of yarn down and now I’m waiting for wonderful Tasha at Fibreworks Oxford to get in some more of the red Rico Essentials Big. Otherwise poor Trixie will have to have a permanent starboard list.

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How big can it possibly get?

As usual, my gritted-teeth sweater-monogamy has lapsed and I’ve been bullied into making a triceratops by a three-year-old (who came up with the low strategy of asking me for it again when my mother was visiting, ensuring I had to do something about it).

I had been meaning to knit some dinosaurs, but of course something else (like a sweater for Me) always comes up. However I dutifully went to knit group on Tuesday and found some 50% wool, 50% acrylic chunky in the shop – Rico Essentials Big. And started knitting this pattern from Knitted Dinosaurs. It is rapidly becoming clear (after another trip to the shop for more yarn) that this thing is going to be enormous. The original pattern was for DK but I like quite solid knitted toys and I also like to knit the fabric quite tightly so I’m using 6mms on a yarn that the yarn shop told me was chunky but turned out to be super-chunky. The ball-band recommends 8mms. God knows how huge it would be if I’d used their needle size. As it is, I think it’s already bigger than the baby. That’s my foot, for purposes of comparison, and I’m halfway through the body…SONY DSC

How big is a life size triceratops?

Striking a blow for feminism…

There’s a bit of background required for this knitting story.

We don’t have TV so the children are reliant for their visual entertainment on my husband’s and my memories of what we watched when we were children – we buy old series on DVD. So they have an encyclopaedic familiarity with Bagpuss, The Clangers and Ivor the Engine and no knowledge at all of Peppa Pig and the other CBeebies delights.

Spiderman and His Amazing Friends is one of these blasts from the past – Spiderman lives with two chums in a platonic flatshare and they join up to defeat criminals.SAHAF

One of the reasons I like it is that it’s basically nonviolent but also because the fact that one of the superheroes concerned – Firestar – is a woman isn’t even a Thing. It’s not done for tokenism, it’s not done to be politically correct (this series was made pre-PC) – she’s just there because she’s good at her job. She doesn’t take a backseat, she doesn’t have to be rescued, she gets good lines and equal screentime; she’s smart, funny and effective.

And it made me think about 80s cultural icons: Ripley in Alien; Julia Roberts – just as bankable (and earning as much) as her male counterparts; Mrs Thatcher (whatever your opinion of her politics). Bringing up a daughter you become acutely aware of things like science toys being labelled ‘for boys’; of the Early Learning catalogue selling Doctor costumes exclusively modelled by boys (and nurse costumes modelled exclusively by girls, of course); of Amazon restricting its ‘girls’ recommendations to cooking, cleaning and ironing. So solid female role models – for both girls and boys – are worth treasuring wherever you find them. (Let’s not even get into the fact that although you can find Superman, Batman, Spiderman toys in every size and configuration under the sun, it’s hard to buy female superheroes.)

Which is a long way round to explaining why I wanted to make a Firestar costume for one of the Sindy dolls.firestar

You can find Sindy knitting patterns on the internet (some people, bless them, make a hobby of finding old ones and sharing them for free) but I was pretty sure I was going to have to wing this. So I found a pattern for boots, and a pattern for leggings, and a pattern for a bodice, and figured I could use all that as a basis.

I used a temporary cast on for the boots, then once they were done I reattached the yarn to the tops of them to carry on up the legs. Joined the legs at the top and knitted in the round over the bum, did some decreases for the waist and some matching increases for the bust (I’d split at the back by this point), then divided for the armholes and the V-neck. The same as knitting a V-neck sweater but considerably smaller! Did a three needle bindoff for the shoulders (I’d made it a little short in the body so that it pulled tight in proper superhero-lycra fashion!) and picked up stitches for the arms. This particular Sindy rather handily lost her hands about thirty years ago (she’s one of my old ones) so the gloves were considerably easier than they might otherwise have been.

So here’s the finished article! Complete with flames on the gloves and boots. It’s hard to do flames when no reputable yarn manufacturer makes bright orange yarn, so we had to make do with a sort of peach. It’s all in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply.

SONY DSCAnd ridiculously proud I am of it too.

Knitting and whistling

It became obvious after the last post that there was No Way On Earth that I was going to get the whole remainder of the border out of the teeny, tiny ball of wool that remained, so clearly I knitted some way past that point just to prove it beyond all possibility of doubt. The offending shawl is now in the stash box waiting for me to take a sufficiently deep breath to frog the lot. I’ve decided against frogging it halfway and re-doing – largely because I never enjoyed knitting these patterns and definitely don’t want to do it again, but also because I was never really convinced that such a variegated yarn suited such a variegated pattern. I think something simpler is called for, and it might just be this:  Bethany Kok’s shipwreck shawl. Which I’ve wanted to do for ages. It appears to require 1200m so I should be safe with my 1500m (you can appreciate why I might be slightly nervous about this).

Anyway, with a shawl-to-be-frogged lurking menacingly in the stash the only thing to do, clearly, was knit a load of other stuff while whistling nonchalantly. So there’s this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

The two sweaters are both in Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, and both Debbie Bliss patterns. The striped one is her Cosy Sweater from Essential Kids and the Fair Isle one is Nell from Junior Knits. I added the patterns because I knew I didn’t have enough of the orange. (Plus I thought the children might object to matching orange sweaters).

The shawl is for a new baby due in the spring (mine) – a traditional cats paw pattern. I’m taking it and the other border patterns that I’ll be doing from Heirloom Knitting, which is my go-to book for Shetland lace.

Finally, Elijah the Elephant – one of Ysolda Teague’s perfect animal knits. This is the third Elijah I’ve done and I’m finally happy. Finding the perfect soft grey chunky merino has made him a lovely cosy elephant in a nice size for a toddler.

Survivors, casualties and new recruits

Well, as usual not all of the manic cast-ons from January have made it this far.

The mohair tunic…

…was frogged, and the yarn charity-shopped. It was a pain to knit with and the yarn-plus-pattern were a free kit that I never really liked but felt obliged to knit. But there’s not really any point in spending valuable knitting time creating something you’re reasonably certain you’re going to hate and never wear. Perhaps someone else will love a navy mohair sweater !

The baby blanket, however…

… is waiting for me to frog this deeply unpopular sweater

so that I have enough yarn to carry on with it.

The men’s socks have made it

and the women’s

will shortly make it to the feet of a friend who kindly lent us Sherlock season 2 only for Royal Mail to steal it when we tried to return it (she’s getting a new DVD too, obviously).

The two dolly hats were joined by a dolly sweater (doll’s clothes are great for using up bits of sockyarn)

and somewhere in there an elephant got knitted too.

Oh, and I’ve cast on a ballet cardigan for the Bear.

Amazing what can happen in a couple of months.

Polar Bear, also known as Pooh and Woody

The Bear has a habit of renaming things depending on her current obsession, so my latest FO has been renamed several times already and will answer to any of them. Originally he was Ysolda Teague’s Otto, and a very nice pattern he is too!

I knitted him in Debbie Bliss’s cashmerino chunky on 5mm needles. You can knit Ysolda’s toys in any weight yarn but obviously the fatter the yarn the bigger the toy!

He took three balls plus about a metre. You need needles slightly smaller than you’d normally use for the yarn so that you get a tight fabric that the stuffing doesn’t leak through. He’s about 18 inches tall and is a very quick knit – half a dozen evenings of knitting time. He’s not a knit-in-front-of-a-DVD item though because you need to read the pattern for pretty much every row. If I’d just sat down and hammered through, I think he could be done in a couple of evenings. So Otto/Polar Bear/ Pooh/ Woody is a very welcome addition to the house! I really want to do another Elijah as well but there are too many other things on the needles…