Monday, 16 July 2018

Seasonally appropriate

Morning all. Have you dissolved in a puddle of goop from the heat yet? No? Just me then. That in mind I've popped on to share with you a nice worsted weight pullover. Perfect for these hot sunny days if you're planning to weigh in for the Grand National.

Look how happy it is in the sunshine. Guess how happy I wouldn't be wearing it in the sunshine

I don't know why I keep insisting on taking part in any challenge which requires knitting to a deadline. I don't knit quickly! For the love of all, Humbug stop trying. Looking at my ravelry I initially queued this for the Summer of Basics last year!

How do you know which is the front and which is the back? The side with most mistakes, that's the back.

It's a Rosa's sleeveless cardi- jumper by Emma Fassio. The pattern only gives instructions for one size but you can increase it by just casting on extra stitches. I did try writing out the sized up pattern but it looked like I'd taken to speaking in tongues. I can see why governments banned the sending of knitting patterns in wartime in case they contained secret codes.

You can see where the hem is a bit wavy cause I cast off a little too snugly

I frogged this two or three times because I couldn't make the stitch count work. In the end I stopped counting the stitches stuck in four stitch markers and just YO before and after each one. This worked out much better. To be honest this could have worked for last years summer of basics if I'd just taken this approach in the first place as it did work up really quickly. Basic stockinette stitch in a worsted weight is always a quick job.

I got to the bottom of the sleeve caps put a safety line in and tried it for size. I needed about 30 stitches each underarm to fit my bust. In the process of trying it on I pulled a long line of yarn connecting the front and back. I debated trying to cast on stitches over this line of yarn like you would in crochet but couldn't make it work. I just left them as they were and then weaved them in to the cast on stitches in the middle of my work. Not a very elegant solution but a solution none the less.

See bet you wouldn't have known what was up if I didn't tell you. 

It could probably do to be a touch longer as I do have quite a long torso but three balls of yarn was what I bought and three balls of yarn was what it was going to have. I just gave it a particularly taut blocking and called it good. I think we can safely say finesse is really not my strong point.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Happy hubby, happy....something something

I thought I'd pop on to mention the fella's birthday present this year. His birthday is at the beginning of May but due to him only telling me he'd like these t-shirts two days before (and I didn't have any suitable fabric in) he didn't get them until mid May.

I was being arty. Look at me be arty.

The pattern is the Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory. As a pattern company they suit the fella straight out of the pack. As he's slim with a long torso he often struggles with t-shirts looking more like crop tops. Every summer he develops a rather fetching half moon tan across his lower back from bending over working in the garden. With Thread Theory however a straight cut medium and he's good to go.

He's a very good subject, he always hits his marks.
I'd made him two previous for Christmas last year using a thinner jersey with more drape. This fabric is Minerva Craft's Premium Quality Cotton Spandex in Army Green and Ivory. You'd think having made these t-shirts twice before muscle memory would have set in and I wouldn't get myself in such a twist over the placket. No such luck! I blame it on trying to work it out after a busy shift in a very warm hospital. I got there though which is the main thing. I did try and skip the hand stitching as I was using very stable knit but you're asked to hand stitch for a reason so I ended up unpicking my wobbly machine stitches and doing it again properly. Once the placket had come together it was a quick case of whipping the rest up on the overlocker. 

Will you hurry up and take the photo woman! These plants are heavy.

These photos are the result of me marching in to the living room one sunny morning demanding he go get a shower and pop on his new t-shirt so I can take photos. I made the poor lamb pose all over the garden. He was very patient but he was saved by my camera running out of space on the memory card. He's told me he'd like some pants next. I wonder if he'd be as obliging with the photoshoot then? 

Don't worry he wouldn't really garden in his fancy new white t-shirt. It's for stylistic effect. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Wedding Quilt

Morning all, I'm writing this from a lovely sunny garden. After such a long snowy winter/spring every sunny day feels like a bit of a gift.

 I wanted to share something that has been just over a year in the making. My wedding quilt. I decided when I got married last year that I didn't want a guest book that would go on some shelf somewhere and just collect dust.

An instagram friend Jocoulson82 gave me the idea to get my guests to sign fabric squares and turn them in to a patchwork quilt. This is the first time I've made a patchwork quilt and I'm so darn pleased with it. It's not my first attempt at patchwork however, I did make a patchwork bag to hold carrier bags. It came out more like crazy paving. I didn't know the idea was precise cutting that made everything line up. 

I did start off trying all sorts of fancy stitches bit of satin here and there but by the end it was all back stitch. Especially with some of my friends with small tight handwriting.

I had intended to quilt it all together as one however the very helpful lady at my local quilt shop Patchwork Parade suggested I quilt it in sections. She felt that as a beginner it might be a bit much to handle all at once. Never one to ignore the suggestions of someone who knows more than me it's precisely what I did.

I went for a very basic 9 square design to show of the embroidery so it ended up being four 9 squares wide by 6 tall. I was two embroidery squares short so added one for the date and one of the location to go in the bottom two corners.

I quilted them in three pieces of eight 9 squares each. I have never pricked myself so much with one project! Every time I moved my hand STAB!

I just went for basic stitching in the ditch to quilt it. I say I stitched in the ditch, it was more like stitch in the general vicinity of the ditch. Usually any little flaw would really annoy me but I'm so chuffed with how this turned out I really don't mind. I like that it makes it look homemade.

I used extra wide backing which was just every so slightly not enough to cover the whole back. Fortunately I'd bought a little 1/4 meter piece of sewing machine fabric so made this a pieced section and totally intentional....

This one is a spread sheet because my husband is an accountant and it's a reference to his wedding speech.

I've been hoarding scraps from projects for a few years now with the intention to make a quilt and I think this has given me the confidence to tip over the edge of making it happen. Sometimes all you need is to be able to picture in your head how each step will go.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Testing testing

If you're a seamstress/sewist sat with your fingers in your ears and a rather fetching eye mask on you may not have noticed a trend for dungarees; whether it's Tilly and the Buttons' Cleo, Closet Case Files' Jenny or By Gum by Golly's self drafted pair.

Personally they're not something I had ever considered for myself thinking they'd look a bit childish on me. It's funny really considering dungarees were originally work wear but they're something I always associate with children who frankly look adorable in a pair.

Jen at Jennifer Lauren Handmade's take on it is the Pippi pattern which I was lucky to be a tester for. I quite like that she doesn't tell you a large amount about the pattern before you sign up to test them so you get what you're given and see what you can create. It stops my preconceptions and lets me see what I can do.

It ended up that I really liked the pattern. So judgey Humbug should just shut her mouth. I went for the size 20 C cup. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate a pattern with different cup sizes. I hate doing a FBA so have it all right there is fabulous. I love the lines of the streamlined skirt and the pleats with the large pockets. I went for purple needle cord as I happened to have some knocking about. I cursed this decision when turning the straps believe me! You know what makes turning a tube tricky? Friction. You know what needlecord has loads of? Friction!

As it's me there can't be something I didn't make a hash of. With this project it's that I made the hole to put the jeans buttons through much too big so they now pop straight through the fabric. I'm going to reinforce the holes with some off cuts and stitch some buttons on. No one will know....other than the people I insist on pointing the flaws out to. Which is everyone.

Jen had some issues with the fitting of the bib as you can see in the picture below which causes it to gap at the sides. She did actually amend this problem but because I'd already got the pattern pieces cut out I opted to go with the original. It does make my eye twitch to look at it so I'm going to unpick this bodice and re-cut the amended one. Should have just done that in the first place really. Quiet Captain Shoulda, you don't know my learning methods!

So I would recommend if you get the chance to pattern test for Jen (she just closed sign ups for new testers but keep an eye out in future) I would recommend giving it a go. If like me you tend to stick to comfort zones it pushes you to try something new plus she's a safe pair of hands as I haven't seen a duff pattern from her.

Now I'm off to enjoy the unprecedented warm weather for an English bank holiday. Take care xXx

Saturday, 28 April 2018


I like to think I've been around the block a few times with this crafting lark. I'm not as green as I'm grass looking, nosiree.

I know the rules. If you've got an event coming up make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make either your knockout dress or the lovingly handmade gift. It just makes sense.

So how did I end up midway through December taking painkillers like tic tacs because my hands had formed twisted stumps from knitting based overuse? Cause knowing the rules is not the same as following them.

Plus I'm invincible.

Each spike is knit, stuffed with toy filling and stitched on to the jumper with that cute little tail. 

Though just look at how cute he is! If that's not worth an RSI I really don't know what is. The pattern is the Stegosaur hoodie by Jane Burns. I'd actually seen this back in November 2016 (you'd think this would be enough warning for a Christmas present in 2017, turns out no) and thought how adorable it would be on my little nephew.

This little dinosaur wants to run free!

For my very beginner knitter skills it's a really easy make despite a small melt down when I realised I couldn't remember the magic loop method and tried double point needles. Double point needles are hard core! I still have no idea how those darn things work. I'm magicloop4lyfe... you know once I remember the whole loop bit.

How cute is the moss stitch hem, cuffs and button bands

I found from the pattern that you do not need as many spikes as it tells you to use; plus deadlines meant I also didn't have time to make as many as instructed. I also needed a couple more balls of the main colour for the body. I used the instructed Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in Silver Grey, Red Wine Heather, Lichen and Straw.

I'd always thought I hated wool but this stuff was a pleasure to work with. It didn't set my teeth on edge at all but please little man don't chew the sleeves. That may just push me over the edge.

Much better than this twisted monstrosity. Like I got a toddler with a fever dream to draw a jumper 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Tracy Dress

I'm gonna tell you about my friend Tracy. There are people you meet who are positive and encouraging. There are people who when you just want to give up and hibernate are the kind voice urging you to try again tomorrow. There are people who inspire your darkly cynical disturbed little heart. Tracy is one of these people. 

So Tracy knowing my love of African Wax print kindly brought me some lengths back when she went home to Zimbabwe for a family wedding. Ideally she would have taken me with her but no one is perfect. When she gave me the fabric she apologised for the lack of colour, at the time I was dressed in top to toe black, grey and navy. Colour isn't really my 'thing'.

Hand blind stitched armholes. Only the best for Tracy.

This was the longer of the two lengths and I decided immediately it needed to be an Anna dress. Having made a couple of Anna dresses now I realise that there's too much ease in the pattern across my shoulders causing the neckline to bag out. I corrected it with this version and I'm really happy with the fit. It's also taught me a helpful fix as it's a problem I've noticed with a few patterns which have a higher neckline.

It was very important to me I made something that would do Tracy proud. Having jumped on many a suitcase on a return flight I know weight allowance is tight so I appreciated her taking the time to find and bring me back fabric. Going out to tea with her once it was complete she told me it made her look at the pattern with renewed interest so I think mission accomplished.

My example of wabi sabi. Nothing is perfect and I am no exception. I overlocked my seam to the body of the dress. Doh! Fairly happy the repair (rapid zig zag stitch over the hole) is not too obvious.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Un-bear-ably cute

I'm not a big kiddie person; a big kid yes but a kiddie person, no. There are a few exceptions to this as there are in all things. One of these exceptions is my previously mentioned nephew. This project comes as a result of his rather fine Mother requested I make a memory teddy out of his old baby grows. You're darn tooting I will! 

She gave me these four baby grows. Obviously as there's two white this needed to be the body and then the greyish one contrasting bits like the pads of hands and feet. The zebra one however as soon as I saw it I knew teddy needed to be able to dress up. I did initially play with the idea of forming an actual zebra head but once I stopped drinking the battery acid I realised this was madness. A brief googling of zebra hoodies later and popping a mane in the hood was the new plan. 

The pattern is from a lady called Joy is available for free with a tutorial here. I hadn't expected how big it would be when all printed out and I realised rapidly that I did not have another fabric for it. If I had read all the way down Joy's tutorial I would have realised the pattern made a teddy 18" high! I never read to the bottom and have yet to recognise why this is a bad idea. Anyway a quite trip to the photocopier later to reduce the scale down to 65% and we have a much more manageable pattern. 

Baby grows take some taking apart I tell you! Funny considering how built to last they are when they'll only be worn a couple of weeks, tops. Oh but how soft though?!? I was vaguely concerned my nephew would never get to see teddy as my mother took quite a shine to cuddles with him.

His eyes are safety eyes which were the devil's own job to attach. I had to use heavy duty pliers to attach them and as a result slightly scratched them. Sorry teddy I'll get you on the waiting list for cataract surgery. The mouth and nose I embroidered on with well embroidery thread actually.  

The hoodie is very haphazard as it's self drafted. You know this because it didn't occur to me to draw shoulders in my mock up attempt. I didn't have quite enough fabric to do all of the hoodie in the zebra print so used the contrast fabric to make the back. I also re-purposed the cuffs of the baby grow to make the sleeves cuffs. The mane was wool looped over a piece of sellotape and basted on to the seam allowance of the hood. I imagine there is more straight forward way of going about this but it didn't occur to me. The hood I couldn't really work out how to make it actually enclose the head so I just whacked a bunch of darts in it and called it good. 

Hanging out with the other wild animals
All in all I'm fairly happy with how he turned out and from the photos I've seen of him with the main man he's happy with the finished result too.