Loomed Mermaid Tail with Raised Paving Stitch

After making a moderately successful mermaid tail on my looms for my niece Madison, I was asked by a family friend to make one as a gift for a friend of hers. My first commission, yay! However, I wanted to make something that actually looked like it had scales. I played around with the idea of using the seafoam stitch, but I was concerned about little toes poking through and getting tangled.

Madison modeling the first mermaid tail I made. Pattern here.

Madison modeling the first mermaid tail I made. Pattern here.

 

Then in the Knifty Knitter/ Loom Creations facebook group, Renita posted a picture of a hat she’d made using a stitch called Raised Paving, which I thought looked sufficiently scale like. So I played around with the stitch on my looms and came up with a slightly modified version to use in the mermaid tail pattern.

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Mermaid tail with the Raised Paving stitch. Much more scaly, no?

 

So, I wrote up the pattern for this mermaid tail as well. You can find it by clicking the picture above, or this link here. I made this on a 36 peg round loom (similar to the Knifty Knitter looms) using two strands of DK weight yarn held together for each colour.

Some after thoughts on the pattern…

There’s still a bit of a toe poking risk with this stitch, as the slipped stitches on the inside are a bit loose, but this can be worked around in two ways. First, just pop some socks on baby before using the tail (and remember that it’s a photography prop and babies should not be left unattended while wearing the tail), or secondly by sewing a simply slip to fit inside, like a pillow case, and stitch it to the waistband. If you make a slip, make it a bit bigger than the tail to allow for stretching. I made mine 19cm wide by 33cm long.

The waist-band would look good if you use both Colour A and Colour B in it I think, just to add a bit of variety.

This tail would fit a newborn baby, but could be easily modified for a larger baby by simply choosing a larger loom and adjusting the stitch pattern slightly if needed.

If anyone tries this out, please send me photos, I’d love to see what this tail looks like in other colours! And if you have any trouble with the pattern, please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment below.

 

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Three Step Stitch Hat Tutorial

I recently accidentally invented a new stitch on my knitting looms because I misread the instructions for an already existing stitch. It’s an awesome mistake though. It’s a muck up of the mock crochet stitch (also known as the z stitch or the zig zag stitch) which you can find out more about here.

What I basically did was read the cast on instructions and assumed it was the stitch instructions. So instead of wrapping three, knitting off, wrapping three, knitting off, I instead did this: wrap one, knit off, wrap two, knit off, wrap three, knit off and repeat. That’s a terrible explanation. I made this video which explains the stitch much, much better:

To show the difference between the actual mock crochet stitch and the three step stitch, I made up two samples. The top one is the mock crochet and the bottom one is the three step. Each one is four rows. You can see that the three step is bulkier and has bigger holes and taller rows. It’s also stretchier.

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So the pattern for the hat is pretty easy. You need to know how to do an e-wrap stitch, purl stitch and the three step stitch. I used the 31 peg loom to make this hat, but you could easily adapt this hat to any size loom, as the stitch doesn’t require an odd or even number of pegs, it’s just worked around till the working yarn is back on the final peg.

If you don’t know how to do the purl stitch, the video that I found really helpful is this one, but a quick YouTube search for “purl stitch on round loom” will give you lots of videos to pick from.

So you want to start with an e-wrap cast on followed by four garter ridges. A garter ridge is made up of one row of e-wraps followed by one row of purls. So the brim will be like this:

e-wrap cast on
row 1: e-wrap
row 2: purl
row 3: e-wrap
row 4: purl
row 5: e-wrap
row 6: purl
row 7: e-wrap
row 8: purl

Then you want to bring the yarn to the front of your first peg and begin the three step stitch.

row 9: wrap peg 1, knit off. Wrap pegs 1 and 2 together, knit off. Wrap peg 1, 2 and 3 together, knit off. Peg 2 becomes peg 1 and peg 3 becomes peg 2 and the pattern repeats. Wrap 1, knit off, wrap two, knit off, wrap all three, knit off. (The video above explains it so, so much better than these words do).

So do 6-8 rows of the three step stitch, until you hat is about 20cm long (ish). Then finish with a drawstring cast off. Easy!

The type of yarn you use, as well as the tension, will determine what the hat looks like and how many rows of the three step stitch you need to do. With the fuzzy purple yarn and a tighter tension I found I needed to do 8 rows of the three step stitch to make a hat. With the multi-coloured yarn and a looser tension, six rows was sufficient. Also, with the multi-coloured yarn, I used two strands as one for the brim, to make it thicker.

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This pattern is so easy to adapt to different sizes and yarns. You could make the brim longer or shorter as you wish or you could use different sized looms to make hats for larger or smaller heads. As the three step stitch is super stretchy, this hat is perfect for anyone with a lot of hair, or even dreadlocks, as the hat would easily expand to fit them.

If you make this hat, or anything with this three step stitch, please leave me a link or comment below, I’d love to see your work!

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Magic Scarf Reveal

Not so long ago I posted a sneak peak of a loom knitting project I was working on, the so called More-Than-100-Ways-To-Wear-It, Magic Scarf. I finished the project ages and ages ago and didn’t end up posting about it because, to be frank, it’s hideous. It’s ugly as sin and I’d never wear it out in public. But I did make it more as a test and the test didn’t quite work out. It’s stretchy, but not as stretchy as it needs to be to work properly.

Thankfully since making this scarf, I’ve joined a Facebook group called Knifty Knitter/Loom Creations and have been inspired to learn new stitches and new things to do with my looms. If you’re at all interested in loom knitting, join this group. The members are all really friendly and love to help out if you get stuck or admire your projects if you post them. It’s a very supportive place to hang out. So I’m going to try making a Magic Scarf again with a new stitch that I’ve learnt, but it will have to wait until I’ve finished working on some baby stuff for my sister and completed my yoga mat bag.

Here’s a slideshow of the original fashion show my sisters and I put on in January of 2007:

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And seven years later, I’m just as dorky and not nearly as creative:

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Floating

Yesterday I felt like I was floating. Let me explain how. The previous two shifts at work I’d felt like I was underwater. You know, when you’re underwater and you can’t hear anything clearly and the water is pressing down on you all around? Kind of like that. Well yesterday, I went to work, prepared to tell my boss that I couldn’t work on check-outs that I needed somewhere less energy-pulling to work because clearly I was in no way able to deal with it at the moment. Due to the timing of when I started and when breaks had to happen, I spent the first hour on check-outs. And it was fine. I was fine. I was floating. I noticed that I didn’t feel like I was under water. I felt physically lighter. Everything was easier. And as soon as I noticed how light I was feeling, I began to feel even lighter still. Like I was floating in the Dead Sea supported by water and salt. (Not that I’ve floated in the Dead Sea, yet, but how I imagine it would feel).

I’m positive that the reason I felt so much better yesterday afternoon was because of all the writing I did yesterday. I wrote on this blog and on my student blog (I’ve signed up for a course called How To Change The World) and I wrote a letter explaining why I was feeling so drained and what I’m going to do about it (a letter that’ll never be sent, but writing it out helps). So writing is awesome and therapeutic and healing, and I love it quite a lot.

Today I’m going to bake cupcakes and start working on my new course and wash some dishes and maybe some clothes. I’ll sing Hallelujah again and again until I memorise the order of the verses (it got stuck in my head last night, but I’m taking the opportunity to practice today while Ajay is at work so he doesn’t have to put up with my very-out-of-tune-but-very-enthusiastic singing). Then I’ll put the Disney channel on my Pandora app and sing along with all the songs. I’ll look at the tiny flowers I bought myself at work yesterday that reminded me of miniature sunflowers, and sunflowers never fail to make me smile. I’ll call my grandparents in Geelong and organise to visit them next week when Ajay and I both have two days off in a row(!).

photo 2

 

I’m loving the freedom of having five whole days in a row to do with whatever I want. I’ve written a very long To Do list that is more of a wishlist because there’s no pressure to get most of the things on the list actually done. I’m dreaming of a sparkling clean house and all my paperwork organised and garden free of weeds and full of seeds and I’m dreaming of relaxing on the couch or in my hammock with a cup of tea and a good book and I’m dreaming of being really productive and getting started with the business idea that’s been floating around my head for the last two months and I’m dreaming of writing and writing and writing. And in the end it doesn’t matter what I end up doing and what I don’t because the dreaming is nice and the freedom is nice and the potential of all these days is nice and I could do with a bit of niceness this week.

 

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My Well Is Empty

I’ve had a very intense week and now I’m empty. I feel like I have nothing inside me to give. No happiness, no kindness, no compassion, no sympathy. I’ve struggled through my last two nights at work, as just dealing with customers, as in just smiling and saying hello, has left me so drained that after the last customers are gone it’s all I can do to not dissolve into a puddle of tears and exhaustion. It’s kind of scary. I’ve never felt so drained before and I’m not sure how to fix myself.

After work tonight, I have five days off, due to a happy coincidence with the roster. So I’m going to use the next five days to try and fill myself back up again. I’ll be drinking cups of tea, and filling out my 2014 workbook with all my dreams and goals and hopes and wishes. I’ll be avoiding Facebook (it’s draining) and instead be focusing on Instagram and sharing photographs. I’ll be taking photographs (because that makes me incredibly happy) and pottering around the garden and organising my study and getting ready for uni. I’ll be cooking healthy meals and snacks and finding recipes to make once I start back at uni this semester.

I’ll be ironing all the work shirts (because doing that one task makes me feel super organised and on top of life in general). I’ll be talking with Ajay as much as I can about how I’m going, how I’m feeling.

I’ll cry if I feel like crying, and I’ll sing if I feel like singing and I’ll write and write until I’ve gotten all my thoughts out of my head and onto paper.

And hopefully, by the end of the week, I’ll be feeling a little better, I’ll be feeling more like myself and less like this shell of a person. And if not I’ll keep working on it until I do. Because sometimes that’s all we can do, just keep working on it.

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Moving is Awesome (but it also totally sucks)

I’m lying in my bed, which is put together, with clean sheets and a clean shirt after having a hot shower with a fresh towel. My phone is charging and connected to the Internet which is set up and working just fine. I’m doing all of in my new cottage house. Moving is awesome.

Today had lots of sucky moments too, and as I was composing a list of them for this post, I realised that all of the sucky things got resolved (bar one, which we plan on fixing tomorrow), and in retrospect were sucky but not hellish.

My partner has been an amazing support for me today. He started his day early with a 6am-3pm shift at work only to come home and help me deal with the removalists and then go to the new place, help them unload the truck, unpack his own stuff (bugger all compared to the mountains of boxes I have up tackle tomorrow!) and he had to put up with me being snappy and overly emotional and overly excited and basically certifiably nuts.

So our removalists weren’t the greatest, but they were cheap and though they could handle dismantling and moving my loft bed, they gave up on putting it back together again (our job for tomorrow now, and I feel safer doing it myself anyway). Our power wasn’t switched on, but a quick phone call got that fixed and the installation fee waived because the power company knew they’d mucked up. Once the power was on our home alarm system went berserk, but after a few hours and a couple of phone calls we not only managed to tame it, but also to program out own code into it. Our home phone’s not working, but the Internet is (and I suspect I know what’s gone wrong here because its happened to me before, so one phone call tomorrow should fix that too) and the Internet brought us food tonight so dinner was covered (and plenty of leftovers for tomorrow, which I was able to store in our fridge which is working due to the power actually being on! Yay!).

All in all it’s been a long, hard day. But falling asleep in our new cottage home? Worth every minute.

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Note To Self

Oh, I forgot how horrible I can be when I move house. What happens is that I forget to eat enough and I get really irritable and then every little thing makes me snap in anger. I forget to treat my partner like my partner. I treat him like an enemy when he’s only trying to help.

So this is my note to self for the next couple of days:

Be patient, be kind, take a deep breath and speak with love.

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Magic Scarf

I’m trying to recreate a family memory. I have a habit of recreating things from my past that I loved. I’m remembering one holiday when my dad took my sisters and I to the Sunshine Coast for a week and we ended up in a shop that had these funky looking scarves for sale. They were advertised as “More Than 100 Ways To Wear” kind of scarves and we three girls found three colours we each loved and dad didn’t take much convincing. With our purchase, the store owner slipped in a piece of paper that showed a model wearing the magic scarf in five easy ways. Well, the girls and I were inspired and as soon as we got back to the motel we were staying at, we put on a fashion show for dad and Anke. It took hours. We kept trying to discover new ways to wear the scarf. I kept my scarf for ages, until I literally wore holes in it.

So now I’m trying to make one. Part of what made the magic scarf magic was that it was a very large tube scarf that could be stretched open and worn as a shawl or slimmed up and worn as a regular scarf. I can’t knit with knitting needles, but I have a set of French knitting looms that I’m pretty handy with. I regularly use the middle size loom to make beanies and the smaller one to make tube scarves. Now I’m using the biggest loom and a skinny wool and a looser tension in the hopes that the tube will stretch enough to wear as a shawl.

I work on this in the evenings when my partner is watching the cricket. I’m not a fan of cricket, but because I’ve been submitted to almost every single minute of each of the Ashes test matches so far, I’ve come to enjoy listening to the commentators. Shane Warne and Michael Holding are my favourites.

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Easy Gnocchi

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I thought I’d shared this recipe ages ago when I first invented it but it turns out I just used the photo in my post about vegan cheez sauce and didn’t give a recipe at all! It’s a very simple dish, a quick one to make through the week. I make a double batch and take the leftovers to work, but gnocchi doesn’t make for very good leftovers, so do this at your own risk.

Easy Gnocchi
Serves: 2

Ingredients
500g gnocchi
500g tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced but not too finely
2tbsp salt
Pesto
Optional: cheez sauce or grated cheese

Method
1. Sauté onions in a large pot until cooked but not soft. Use a low heat for a longer time here, you want a bit of crunch left in them.
2. Add tomatoes and bring the heat up to medium. Simmer until mushy and saucy. Turn heat right back down again.
3. Bring 2-3L of water to boil in a second pot. Add salt and mix. Add gnocchi and stir.
4. When the gnocchi rises to the top, it should be done. Always taste one just to be sure. Take 1/3 cup of the cloudy starch filled water and add to the sauce. Then drain gnocchi and add to the sauce pot. Mix well to coat gnocchi.
5. Serve topped with pesto and cheese or cheez sauce if you wish.

I used baby gnocchi tonight and cooked a double batch. A note about saving for leftovers- store the gnocchi in the sauce with a light drizzle of oil. When reheating in a microwave, leave a lid or cover over the bowl and make sure to heat all the way through. Overheating is preferable to under heating here. When reheating on a stove top, add a bit of water and stir often to avoid sticking.

I was vegan for two years and only this year have semi reintroduced dairy and eggs to my diet. 2013 has been an on-again off-again year for me vegan wise but having been vegan for so long I find there’s some foods I can’t re-stomach. Yoghurt is one. Pesto, surprisingly, is another. So I usually just make a vegan version (which is also nut-free). Slightly more expensive, but I prefer the taste.

Bonus recipe- Vegan Pesto
Ingredients
3 parts basil from a tube (the kind you can buy in the fresh produce section)
1 part nutritional yeast (you could use parmesan if dairy isn’t an issue)
1 part lemon juice
1 part olive oil
Pinch of salt
Method
Mix all ingredients together. Taste. Adjust. Repeat until happy.

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In Case Of Cold, Open Box

I was sick last week, only with a cold, but it caught me by surprise (as it often does) and I was out of action for four or five days.

Dannielle Cresp of Style For A Happy Home has started creating kits or boxes full of things you might need for a certain event. So far she’s created an ultimate gift wrapping kit and a kiddo friendly visitor kit. So I’m wanting to make an “In Case Of Cold” kit so that I’m ready the next time the sniffles strike (I always seem to be caught with either no tissues in the house, or those really cheap ones that grate against your nose!).

I won’t be actually assembling the kit until I move house, because I’ll be moving in less than a month and there’s too much other stuff to organise between now and then. But here’s the list of things I’ll put into the box when the time comes:

  • 2 boxes of Kleenex tissues, those super expensive, extra soft aloe ones (and maybe an extra box of the cheap ones for tears and coughing up phlegm, urhg!)
  • Effervescent vitamin C tablets (forces me to drink more water that way).
  • Zinc tablets (more effective than vitamin C according to my dad).
  • Ibuprofen tablets (because sometimes a cold will give me an unshakeable headache or a really sore throat and painkillers are the only thing that will let me get enough sleep to chase the cold away).
  • $50 in cash (for buying fresh lemons/ginger/garlic/honey etc. and for ordering food to be delivered if I can’t make it myself and no-one’s home to cook for me).
  • 2 cans of vegetable soup.
  • A permission slip that gives me permission to: stay in bed, be unproductive, call in sick to work/uni, sleep all day.
  • A reminder notebook with home remedy recipes, instructions for sweating it out and reminders to eat and drink lots and lots. The kinds of things you can forget when your head is so foggy you can barely see straight.

This stuff will all go into a plastic tub or large shoe box and I’ll keep it in the hall cupboard for when it’s needed. Hopefully I’ll not need it for a while now, but if I do, it’s one less thing to think about when I’m focused on recovering asap.

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