Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Ballsack for my Boyfriend.

Last year I decided to make my Partner a sneaky Christmas gift - He knew I was knitting him something but he had no idea what it was.

I'm horrible at doing the whole "keeping secret gifts secret" thing. I get all excited about the project and want to talk about it all the time >.<

My partner is a qualified Sparky who has a mild obsession with juggling and also works as a clown and juggler/stiltwalker. (Yes, I'm dating a party clown.) I'd already gotten some of Opal's "Electrician" sock yarn for him, planning to somehow measure his feet without him knowing and make him some socks for Christmas.

How on EARTH do you measure someone's feet without them knowing? Ply them with strong drink or chloroform?

. . . Yeah, no. Not going there!

About the middle of last year he was complaining about not having anywhere on his costumes to easily stash his juggling balls, and he also had an accident where his best contact-juggling ball fell out of his pocket and cracked when it hit the ground. About the time he was most vociferous I had this book out of the library:

Inside this book there is a pattern for an item called a "belt purse", a long tube-shaped bag that has a slit opening near the top and also a loop to enable you to conveniently hang it from your belt.

The gauge for this belt purse meant it could be knitted up with the Electrician-coloured yarn, which is a very bright and clown-like colourway. (If you stretched your imagination to a clown who happened to like grey, blue and fluro yellow)

BINGO! Christmas gift idea required.

That pattern as written in the book was a little too small for juggling balls, so I checked the dimensions of the finished bag against the diameter of his favourite set of juggling balls and discovered that all I needed to do was double the pattern in every direction.

My problem was that all the patterns are in a really really fine gauge, since the most commonly used knitting needles in the Andes (according to this book) are made from the spokes of bicycle wheels.

That blew my mind.

I'm not a fan of tiny needles and lots of stitches. When I saw the final count of rows I'd need I nearly cried! Thank goodness for Opal's colourways and their shorter sections of colours that stopped me from dying of boredom.

The bag is made in one piece and knit in the round. The only sewing I had to do was to reinforce the edge of the hole and to attach a tassel to the bottom of the bag.

Ta-dah! I gave you the finished Juggling Ball Bag!

Mig's Ballsack, Juggling ball bag for Mig, knitted in Opal's "Electrician" sock yarn. Pattern adapted from the 'Belt Purse' in "Andean Folk Knits"

The loop at the top. You cast on and knit a strip, then pick up along the cast-on edge and begin knitting in the round to create the loop.
Mig's Ballsack: The Loop, Detail of the Juggling Ball Bag, closeup of the top loop and increases

The final decreases and tassel.
Mig's Ballsack: The Tassel, Detail of the juggling ball bag, closeup of final decreases and tassel

My inept reinforcing of the hole. (I'm not a terribly good hand-sewer.)
Mig's Ballsack: The Opening, Detail of the juggling ball bag, closeup of the opening and reinforcing stitching

That's it from me for today. Have a great weekend and happy crafting everyone!


Friday, 7 September 2012

Oooh Baby, Baby!

Right now I am really sick of knitting baby stuff.

Each year my workplace raises money (and knits baby stuff) for the NICU at Dunedin Hospital, so two months or so a year are dedicated to making teeny-tiny preemie-sized hats and booties.

I don't mind doing them. They're adorable and easy and a really fast knit, so you feel like you're achieving a lot in a short space of time. (Even though weaving in all those ends quickly becomes a right pain in the behind!)

However this seems to be the point in life when ALL my friends and family have started having babies.

Cue expectations of gorgeous handknitted baby gear.

Since I'm both practical and lazy, I refuse to make baby gear from yarns that are difficult to wash and care for. Why make a garment that a tired, stressed new Mum can't just biff in the washing machine when it inevitably gets dribbled/puked/spilled on? Fussy high-maintenance premium yarns may seem like a nice idea at first, but very few new Mums -or even experienced Mums- have time to carefully hand-wash selected items of clothing every other day.

My knitting time is also rather limited at present. I don't want to put weeks of my scarce knitting time into a gorgeous little jacket that will be outgrown in a few weeks. (Because tiny humans don't stay tiny for long!) I'd rather put that time into a pretty blanket that they'll be able to use in various ways for at least a year.

Who says a cot blanket can't become a pram blanket, toy blanket, winter-leg-warmer or long-car-trip blanket?

After all that grousing, here is a small selection of the baby gear I've made over the last year. The hats are preemie sized and the booties are a standard newborn-6months size. I've mainly used Magic Garden Classic Prints, because they have a gorgeous line of pure merino in positively edible colourways.

Lots of pinks, because I now have a lot more adorable little nieces.

I hope you have a wonderful crafternoon!