Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Molly Weasley Inspired Blanket

As I've mentioned before I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter books and films, what's not to love about them?
In the films I particularly like Ron's mother, Molly Weasley; she's big into her knitting/crochet and is a real fan of multicolour, as this photo taken from MuggleNet shows.

I'm rather jealous of her magical ability to get her needles to knit all by themselves, just another perk of being a witch I guess?!?
With Molly in mind I thought I would start a colourful project that I can pick up when I have a free moment & put down for extended periods without bother.
I decided upon a higgledy-piggledy blanket where I would just wing it with a freestyle mix of knitting & crochet!
After a couple of hours this was the result....
I really didn't worry too  much about structure and just made it up as I went along! I've used a mix of yarn types and various sizes of hooks and needles and just went with the flow.

The first section was the green and pink, crocheted in the round section and I just went on from there.
At the moment my favourite section is the mottled, green bit, crocheted with a mohair mix with a 5mm needle using treble crochets around the post front and back depending on the row. I always like the pinks and purples, moss stitch section.
I have mainly attached the pieces as I went, catching the previously yarn end and the starting end in as I went. For a few pieces I made it separately and attached it afterwards using the end and a yarn needle purely because I knitted/crocheted it on the go and didn't want to carry the rest around with me.
Where I attached a knitted section, I used a crochet hook the same size as the knitting needles to pick up stitches through the previous section before transferring the stitches to the needles, I just find this easier but you could use a knitting needle directly.
I have already wavered between liking it and then not being so keen but I plan to add to it over the next year or two and will give updates on it's progress. 

Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Bottle Cap Brooches

My hubby is a fan of real ale and as such often drinks a bottle or two (sometimes even more- real ale to him is the equivalent of buttons to me) this means I have a lot of bottle caps at my disposal. I must, also, give a shout out to our friends Andy and Carrie, they have been collecting for me as well and gave me one of my favourite caps, the owl from Hitachino Nest Beer; the other is a Brakspear Brewery Cap with their bee logo. 
These I'm saving for a different project.
I thought I would make brooches with some of the rest using resin I had and bits and bobs I had around the house.

First things first, I gave the caps a good wash, I then set about removing the plastic seal bit, stuck inside the cap, using a pair of pliers. This was easier for some than others, so for the rest I just did the best I could before giving up entirely and, to be honest, it didn't really make a huge difference.
I decided I wanted dangly bits hanging from each one so needed to drill a hole in the side of the cap. At first I tried using my Archimedian drill which was possible, but tough going as it kept slipping so I switched to my "ImpressArt Hole Punch", although a bit fiddly to hold with the cap, it made it a lot easier and much quicker to add a hole!
I gathered up pieces of card and paper with an interesting pattern, mostly from magazines and catalogues. I then cut circles out using one of the plastic inserts as a template, but handily found one of my circle punches was just the right size. If the paper was uncoated, for example from a page in a magazine, I coated both sides with clear tape- this prevents "bleeding" of the colours when the resin is added.
I glued each circle inside a cap using 2 part epoxy glue and left them to cure completely, this doesn't take too long at all, just a few minutes. During this time I picked the extra trinkets and bits to add, small buttons, glitter, resin flowers and beads for example. I also made the dangly bits using wire, jump rings, and by gluing bits to copper discs which can be hung from the jump rings.
Next I added the clear resin, carefully following the manufacturer's instructions. I poured at least a 2mm thickness in each one but made sure it did not quite reach the hole I had drilled in the side. I then left them to set for at least 24 hours somewhere they wouldn't be disturbed or get dusty.
After I was satisfied they were completed cured I glued a brooch finding to the back and added the dangly bits.
Job done! I'd love to know what you think of the recycled bottle cap brooches.
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Knit Texture Buttons

I don't know if you can tell from the background but I really love buttons, it's borderline obsessive. I love sorting them, sewing them on things and making them, as this previous post will attest to.

So when I completed another knitted project, a stripey knitted cowl, I searched my extensive collection and decided it was time to make a couple of buttons I had been thinking about for some time- with the help of a teacup and saucer!
To knit the cowl, I used a Paton's 4ply Regal Cotton in pale blue for the main sections and a denim blue, 100% wool from Guernsey for the thinner stripes. As I wanted it to be quite chunky I used three strands of each to knit with and 7mm needles.
I started with a 5 rows of rib stitch before switching to stockinette stitch. I knit 15 rows in the pale blue and 6 rows in the denim five times before 15 further rows in pale blue. In the last set of 15 pale blue rows I included 2 large buttonholes, created over 2 rows, and finished off with another 5 rows of rib.
The yarns I used led to very defined stitches and this is what told me it was time to make knitted textured buttons! 
A few months ago I stumbled across what I thought was a real bargain in a shop I love, Paperchase- a teacup and saucer with a knitted texture for £4. As if I could leave it behind!? Not only does it look fantastic but I thought I could get crafty with it at some point. Now was that time.
To make the buttons I used Milliput, a 2 part epoxy putty that is just perfect for making buttons. I know this stuff thanks to my dad and his model making days, it also came in very handy for jobs around the house so he would often use it to fix things.
It comes in a few different colours, all of which consist of two rolls of putty which you mix together in a ratio of 1:1. Once thoroughly mixed you have a couple of hours before it sets and after 24 hours it can be sanded and drilled. It really is tough stuff once fully cured- I dropped the buttons a couple of times on tiled floor (unintentionally of course, I was having a clumsy moment) with no damage!
For these buttons I used the silver grey, I had originally intended to use Milliput Standard but accidentally gave that to my dad when he needed some, thinking it was the older of the two packs I had. I was most definitely incorrect about the age, so the rolls in the pack I was using had gone hard on the outside, this just meant I had to cut away the outer layer on both and discard them.
 The colour didn't matter as I planned to paint the finished results anyway.
 Once it was the right consistency I made two balls the same size.
Ooh by the way, it's recommended to wear gloves when you mix Milliput however I don't, I use bare hands, but I make sure I apply barrier cream beforehand and have never had a problem.

The next stage is where my wonderful Paperchase find came into its own. Although Milliput is very adhesive, water can be used to prevent it sticking and this means you can impress a texture into it if the surface is wet.
I coated the surface of the saucer in water before pushing the balls of Milliput, one at a time, into it creating a rough circle shape, the right size for my buttonholes. I decided I liked the irregular shape but if wanted a cutter could be used to neaten the edges, just remember to wet the surface of the cutter.

Once I had two similar sized discs with a scrummy knitted texture on each, I put them aside on foil for 24 hours to set. The next step was to drill two holes in each using a 3mm drill bit and my electric multi-tool. Be prepared, this can be messy, especially if the door opens just as you finish and the wind blows the bits EVERYWHERE! I could have pushed holes into them before they cured, for example using cocktail sticks, but I like the sharpness you get from drilling.
Once the holes were drilled it was time to paint them. I used nail varnish, in a colour also called denim, which was very similar to the thin stripes knitted in denim wool. I only gave them one coat because I liked the way the pattern was highlighted by the lighter colour of the putty underneath so it worked out well using the silver-grey
All that was left was to attach the buttons, for this I used the pale blue yarn, and bingo- one happy Craftin' Ernest!
Until next time, keep cosy and craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest xx