Wednesday, 19 November 2014
If you have any shabby or inexpensive furniture sitting about that could do with a refresh or an upgrade, you might want to consider knitting them some sweaters. Making knitted slipcovers for furniture can be quite a lot easier and cheaper than reupholstering. I speak from experience, having reupholstered several pieces of furniture myself. In the case of one particular piece, a buttoned tub chair bought from Value Village for $15, it took me about $160 and about 30 hours of work to get the job done, and then I must have spent another 30 hours lying on the floor with my legs up on the couch in an effort to "recover" from the number I'd done on my back. Tailored slipcovers can look just as good as upholstery, and besides being easier and cheaper to make, they have the added advantage of being easily removed for laundering or replacement.
In today's post, we're going to look at some ideas and patterns for slipcovering and reupholstering furniture in knitting. The above photo is of the Sweet and Lowdown Chair, designed by Veronik Avery. The pattern is available for download for $5.50(USD). The knitting completely covers the original fabric seat and back and makes an fantastic looking piece that will look good as indoor or outdoor furniture. Knitted slipcovers for plastic patio furniture could be an idea to consider as well.
This Chair Cover pattern, designed by Amy Butler, was published in Farmhouse Knits, published by Rowan. It's a great way to turn a simple chair into something special. I bet there's a plain wooden chair under this slipcover.
This is the Aran Armchair Cover, designed by Erika Knight and published in Simple Knits with a Twist: Unique Projects for Creative Knitters. The main body of the chair is slipcovered (the ribbing at the bottom is a good way to keep the edge taut), while the seat cushion would have a zippered or buttoned knitted case on it. As you can see, this cat approves of the job, more or less.
This is an ottoman cover designed by Vogue Knitting. There's no pattern available, but VK does offer a helpful article on how to customize the project for your ottoman. There aren't that many slipcover patterns available, which is just as well because you will need to custom fit your slipcover knitting project to whatever piece of furniture you're working on.
This Union Jack piece is upholstered rather than slipcovered, but is so fantastic I just had to include it. It's a bespoke piece from Melanie Porter, a studio that does handmade furniture restoration and upholstering. Their gallery is well worth a look if you'd like some ideas and inspiration for fixing up your own furniture. There's no reason why a slipcover has to be neutral monochrome cables or moss stitch. I can easily imagine some fantastic fair isle or gradient designs, or cute picture knits for a child's room.
Using knitting as upholstery rather than as a slipcover is another do-able option if you feel like tackling a bigger and more involved project. Upholstering isn't that hard though it is a lot of work. I won't go into a lot of detail about how to do it here because there are sure to be excellent tutorials elsewhere on the web, but essentially, what you do is strip off the old upholstery, take it apart, use it as a pattern to cut (or knit) your new upholstery, and then put the item back together in much the same way as you found it when you took it apart. You will need some machine sewing skills, a sewing machine, and a few basic tools such as a screwdriver, grips, scissors, a hammer, and a heavy duty stapler. To get matching buttons such as those you see here, take some of your upholstery material to a upholstery shop and have them cover a set of buttons for you.
Friday, 16 May 2014
Have you ever knitted a rug, or considered knitting one? It's an idea with great possibilities, because you can make a rug of any size or shape or colour that you want. (Speaking as someone who spent ten months searching for a satisfactory bedside rug, I feel this is a quality not to be taken lightly.) Rug knitting is usually technically much easier than knitting a sock or a sweater and probably also faster, because you'll be using a bulky weight or at least a worsted yarn, or even multiple strands of worsted or bulky. I would be inclined to put a hand-knitted rug in an area of the house where it's not going to be likely to meet up with any muddy shoes, such as the bedrooms, the bathroom, or the living room. If slippage is an issue — as it's likely to be on tile or wood floors — you can always get an inexpensive mesh grip mat to put underneath. For a more toe-pleasing experience, you can even buy padding to put underneath the knitted rug.
I'd encourage you to go ahead and design your own rug, but let's look at a selection of rug patterns to get an idea of what can be done. The photo above is of the Seed Stitch Rug, by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence, which is so evocative of the traditional rag rug. This pattern is available for download for $4.99(USD).
This pattern is Absorba, The Great Bathmat, by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne, and it was published in Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes, and Pictures. This pattern uses three stands of double worsted Peaches & Creme held together, and the pattern promises that it's "the sort of mat that will absorb two or three gallons of bathwater".
This is the Grass Rug, by Kim Hamlin, and it's also a good pick for someone who likes the shag style. This pattern is available for free.
This is the Ocean Currents Rug, by Moira Ravenscroft of Wyndlestraw Designs. I like it for its beautifully blended colourway. This pattern is available for $4.50(USD).
The Odds and Ends Rug, by Kim Russo, must be the ultimate in stash-busting projects. It's knitted out of many little balls of leftover worsted yarn, which work together beautifully. This pattern is available for $6.00(USD).
The Log Cabin Quilted Rug, by Donna Druchunas, is another very traditional style re-imagined as a knitted rug. Garter stitch pieces are sewn together to make this rug, which is then lined with a fabric backing and interlined with quilt batting. This pattern was published in The Knitted Rug: 21 Fantastic Designs.
Here's another wonderfully cushy-looking bath mat, the Spa Bath Mat, by Black Cat Designs. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.
The Slip-stitch Kilim-style Rug, by Black Cat Designs, is another example of a traditional rug design translated into a knitting pattern. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.
This rug is the Elegant Celtic Cabled Rug, by Donna Druchunas. This pattern is available for download for $2.65(USD).
The Circular Rug, by Alison Barlow, has a more complex construction than most of the rugs in this post, but looks totally worth the work. This pattern appears in Fashionable Projects for the New Knitter.
If you like a little touch of mid-century modern in your decor, the Retro Wallpaper Rug by Cristen DiPisa may be for you. This pattern is available for download for $1.99(USD).
Here's another fun take on a traditional rug style, and even better, it's one that won't mean the death of some poor animal. There are several bear rugs on Ravelry, but unfortunately my favourite pattern was only available in Finnish. I went instead for my second favourite, the Bear Hug Rug, by Phyllis Smith, which looks perfect for a kid's room because it's both a rug and a toy and should be machine washable and dryable. This pattern is available for $14.95(USD).
I'd want to expand the size of the Annie rug, by Sarah Hazell, considerably, but I love that interesting, cheerful pattern. This pattern is available for free.
This You're a Star! rug, by Minttu, borrows from traditional Fair Isle knitting patterns. This pattern is available for $2.00(USD).
Saturday, 26 October 2013
Here's another selection of Halloween patterns (you can see my previous Halloween posts here). This collection of patterns are home decor items designed to make your Halloween entertainments a real scream. The design above, of an all-too-realistic knitted desiccated head, is the My Ex Is Full Of Knit, by ADHD Knitting. It's a free pattern. And as the designer is careful to explain on the Ravelry pattern page, yes that is a real cat's tooth piercing the nose of the head, and yes the tooth was one that had been removed from the designer's pet cat by a vet for medical cause. And how do you procure a tooth for this pattern if you don't happen to have one on hand? Can't help you there, I'm afraid.
Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly, and get comfy on this spiderweb cushion! This is the Parlor Round design, by Jessi Vowels. It's a free pattern.
Having convinced the fly to ensnare itself, the spider sat comfortably back to digest its meal. The Arachnid Throw Pillow, by Jessika Lane, is a free pattern.
Here's a design to help you keep an eye on things. This is the Cyclops Pot Plant, by Dawn Finney. This pattern is available for $4.00(USD).
This 18" Jack O'Lantern pattern, by Alan Dart, will guard your porch or foyer in true Halloween style. This pattern is available for $5(USD).
This is the Morticia's Washcloth design, by Mette Buchreitz, and I can indeed imagine Morticia getting Gomez to scrub her back with it. It's a free pattern.
This Witch Tea Cosy, by Rian Anderson, looks like the perfect way to serve up a herbal brew. When you're not making tea this witch could always be used to decorate a door. This pattern is available for $4.50(AUD).
The very sight of this Wicked Witch Tea Cozy, designed by Jasmyn Cunningham, made me laugh. It's the perfect tea cozy for all Friends of Dorothy! This pattern is available for $1.00(CAD).
Let your Halloween freak flag fly by hanging up this Skeleton Banner design, by Lily/Sugar'n Cream. It's a free pattern.
This is the Pretty Punk Blanket, by Jenny Dolan, and it's a free pattern.
This Halloween Queen design by Melanie Nordberg is a chart, not a full pattern, and so could be used for anything you wish, but I see it as most likely to be used to make an afghan, and so I've included it in this post. The chart is available for free.
This Midnight chart, like the one above, is also designed by Melanie Nordberg and is available for free.
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Perhaps you've made yourself a pouf, or bought one of Clare O'Brien's knitted stools or Bauke Knottnerus's Phat Knits, and are looking for a coordinating home furnishing piece to continue the knitting theme. Perhaps you'd like a lamp, but have rejected the knitted lampshade as not being meta enough. Well, in that case, I have a few home lighting ideas for you that represent the actual act of knitting. The Needle Table Lamp from Vitamin Living above being one.
This design is Louisa’s Loup Light, created by Louisa Pacifico. The design is mains operated and is available in various colours and materials.
This is the "Granny Lamp", by Sebastian Errazuriz, which is made of knitted electrical cable. I don't know if it's at all available commercially, and I think if it were to be, Errazuriz would have to consider renaming it.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Today's post was going to be about knitted lampshades. I found loads of gorgeous ones and was confident that the topic was going to work into a great post... until I started researching the safety aspects. And I ended up concluding I don't want to be responsible for any of my readers winding up homeless or getting burnt to a crisp. I then sighed, deleted the draft post and moved on to write this post about knitted clocks. I'm not going to be making a knitted clock myself because it'll get dusty and be difficult to clean, but at least I can be pretty sure that promoting the idea isn't going to get anyone roasted alive.
The Clock Tam above was designed by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence and Nina Isaacson and is available as a $9.99 download. It would also make a snazzy hat.
I absolutely love the Gomitolo Knit Clock, which is made by the Italian company Diamantini & Domeniconi, but alas, the pattern doesn't seem to be available online and at any rate this clock is 3 feet in diameter. I've included it in this post for inspiration, though, because surely a good knitter could design something similar on a smaller scale.
Knitted clocks seem to be an unexplored area of knitting design, because I could only find two that I really liked. I do rather like this crocheted rainbow clock, from Babukatorium. Visually dividing the clock's face into twelve sections would do away with the need for numbers. As I've always found when buying watches, I don't need the numbers, but I do need the hours marked in some way. A former co-worker of mine once told me she inadvertently left work an hour early one day because the stylish new watch she'd gotten from her boyfriend on her birthday only had a blank face and hands. Oops.
If the idea of making a knitted clock intimidates you, don't let it. You'll be buying the clock mechanism and assembly is easy. The video above by Kyoko Nakayoshi explains how it's done. It's not like you're building a clock that will do your knitting for you, is it?
If you'd rather just spruce up an existing clock than make one, you can make a clock cozy like the one above in any colours or patterns you like. The pattern is by Inger Lise and is available for free on Ravelry.
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
If you like the look of knitted furniture, you might like to take a look at the work of Claire-Anne O'Brien, an Irish textile designer who lives and works in London, and whose furniture designs are basically useable knitted sculptures the visual interest of which will outstrip any couch you could possibly buy.
Of course, as an avid knitter, I'm trying to figure out how they could be replicated. I don't think the average hand-knitter could make an exact copy of these pieces at home because they're at least partly machinery made, but you could probably achieve something along these lines with pre-made furniture legs, a sturdy piece of plywood, and padding. Just be prepared to knit many metres of knitted tubes, because it'll take a lot to create that interlaced effect. If it's too complicated and you don't see your way to laying out, say, €480.00 plus shipping for a Claire-Anne O'Brien stool, you could always stick to making a pouf.
Sunday, 5 May 2013
If you're a crafty bride, or love one who appreciates handmade things and could use some help with her wedding preparations, one DIY wedding planning option is to knit bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids instead of buying fresh floral bouquets. It will cost less, and a yarn bouquet is not only guaranteed not to wilt while the bridal pair are pledging their eternal love, but can be kept as long as desired. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but realistically the odds are the bouquet will last longer than the marriage, like a cross-stitch piece I saw at Value Village last year that depicted pink roses and ribbons and blue birds and featured the words, "James and Amy, United in Love, August 16, 2003". Do you suppose James and Amy got tired of the cross-stitch or that they are no longer united in love? The lesson learned here is that cross-stitch projects, like tattoos, should never include names.
Two good sources for patterns are Lesley Stanfield's 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet: A Collection of Beautiful Blooms for Embellishing Garments, Accessories, and More and Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers and Crocheted Flowers. The knitted tulips above were made by Ravelry user sehepworth, employing a pattern from Lesley Stanfield's book.
The Stanfield and Epstein books offer patterns for individual flowers, such as this morning glory, lavender, and rose, and some aren't shown with stems. To make a bouquet you'll have to make and attach stems (which is just a matter of running florist's wire into some I-cord) and envision your own arrangement and colourway.
I must admit that when researching this post, the best yarn bouquets I came across were all crocheted. Crochet seems to lend itself to floral designs better than knitting does — the knitted flowers I found tended to look rather lumpy and shapeless. If you crochet at all, you might want to go with a crocheted bouquet, or mix the two techniques, as did the maker of the tulips pictured at the top of this post (the leaves are crocheted). The red crocheted roses above were made by Etsy vendor Suili, the calla lily bouquet was made from a pattern from Epstein's Crocheted Flowers, the crocheted pink rose bouquet is a Red Heart pattern, and the crocheted carnations were made by the blogger at Sue's Favourite Things.
I wouldn't toss such a bouquet to your single female guests, though. Women who don't care one bit about getting married might not be so blasé about the chance to score a handmade floral arrangement, and the resulting melee might be a bit unsightly.