Thursday, 31 October 2013

Yarny Progress

Well that's the front finished, only 3 more pieces to go! I'm really enjoying working with this pattern, there's just the right mixture of repeats and need to concentrate which mean it isn't boring AND I can watch the tv at the same time :) x

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Do you want a cake with that crochet?


If you're in the UK you'll know the 'Duck' weather's pretty much settled in - at least for a couple of weeks. 

There's nothing for it, best to stay in and make stuff, interspersed with tea and cake.  In fact, if you're really dedicated to this approach, make the cake too. 
This is where I would post the photo of the rock cakes I made this weekend ... but we've eaten them!  We don't mess about, we're throwing ourselves into this, proper commitment is what you need!

Sam left the following comment after my last post and rather than just email her an answer I thought I'd stick the reply here :)

On the subject of crochet - can you recommend a nice,
easy crochet blanket pattern?
A friend of mine wants to make one for her first
grandchild, due early next year.
Obviously this is just my opinion but I've taught a few people to crochet this year and these are some of the patterns I've made, or the other beginners have had a go at, with pretty good results.  Here are 4 that are really easy and look lovely.
Most importantly, your friend really needs to sign up for Ravelry Sam, then she's good to go ...
This is the Tiramisu Baby Blanket by Alicia Paulson -
beautifully modelled by my god daughter's little boy.

The pattern is a free download on Ravelry.
The pattern recommends worsted weight yarn - I used double knit with no
problems - I just used an appropriate size hook.

It's handy if you don't know if the baby is a boy or girl because you
can make the blanket in a neutral colour and add the
ribbon of your choice at the end.

Note - the pattern is written in US crochet terms so 'sc' is UK double crochet -
and that's pretty much what you use all the way through - very simple!

This is Elmo guarding the beginnings of a Ripple Baby Blanket,
the pattern is from the brilliant Lucy of Attic 24 link here.

I have made this pattern a couple of times - funnily enough on the
second occasion for the little chap above - once he'd outgrown his baby Tiramisu
I made a Ripple for his cot.

The pattern is a bit more complicated but, once you get going, has
a real rhythm to it and is interesting enough to not get boring.
The first one I made had 4 colours and a set repeat,
the second was random - both looked fab.

Lucy explains it expertly on her blog, with a detailed
photo tutorial.
This pattern uses UK crochet terms.

Kenzie's Ultimate Ruffle Edged Crochet Baby Blanket
I don't have a picture of this one - and I don't want to copy the photos on Ravelry but it's worth popping over to have a look.
My DD is making this at the moment, it's only the third things she's
crocheted and it's looking really lovely.
The pattern is free - written in US terminology.
It's really repetitive and grows fast.
My DD is using Hayfield Baby Change DK

I don't usually pick variegated yarn but this looks
super crocheted up and makes a very
simple pattern look more complicated than it is
which is really satisfying for a beginner.


Bobble Stitch Blanket
You can find this pattern at Tales From Cuckoo Land blog, here.
I've made this before, and my DD has too - frankly no idea why we don't
have a photo. 
It looks far more difficult than it is - basically you're working
UK double crochet and then just adding bobbles which are
super easy once you try them - and beautifully
explained in the tutorial.
The really important thing is the yarn.  I don't think there's any point in being a yarn snob for baby blankets - they are going to be put through all sorts and will need to be washed regularly and dried fast.  On that basis I would use acrylic yarn every time. 
The following is just my opinion, for what it's worth:

Just a snapshot of my Stylecraft Special DK stash :)

I started using Stylecraft Special DK (as recommended by Lucy above) and it's brilliant stuff and comes in a huge range of colours.
I don't have a local stockist that has more than a few of the colours available so I order mine from Masons - I've always had really good service from them and their prices are good and P&P reasonable.
Hope that helps

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Feeling Yarnish

I think it's the weather, Sam mentioned exactly the same phenomenon a few days ago, that's she's knitting rather than sewing.   Mind you, as she's made a very beautiful wedding dress she might just need a little break!
Of course, I can't knit particularly well so I thought I'd make something for myself using a crochet pattern.  I've been looking on Ravelry, searching Amazon for crochet books, popped into the local book shops. I even started a couple of things, but nothing was quite right and I've been busy frogging and rewinding the yarn.
I've spent the week driving around the county for one thing or another - I don't like to pass up the opportunity to look for a crafty shop.  During my lunch break on Tuesday I struck gold and stumbled across a proper old fashioned wool shop, 'Hours Knit & Stitch' in Sittingbourne.  It would have been rude to leave empty handed!


Doesn't this bowl full of yarny goodness just make you feel cosy?

I bought 2 patterns too, the tiny little shop had a much bigger range of crochet patterns than I've seen elsewhere. 

The blue (which is more of a Teal IRL) is for the pattern above
I can't decide which view to make - I think I'm veering towards the version with the collar

So, I decided to make this jumper first, I'm using the variegated Americana for this one

I really like the wavy pattern
I'm using a 4.5mm hook rather than the 4mm they recommend, I've a tendency for things to come up a bit smaller than expected, obviously my tension.  It's not really a problem with blankets but I'd be a bit miffed if I finished a jumper and it didn't fit!
I've made a start already, just getting into the flow of the pattern, it always takes a couple of repeats before I can do it without thinking about it at all.
Oh, and the 3 balls of olive green are 'just because' - it's a lovely soft merino and a favourite colour of mine, I think it will be a snuggly scarf - and it was reduced so much I got all 3 balls for less than the price of 1 - bargain!


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Nice weather for ducks

View from the dining room - not the weeding weather I was banking on

Hello there, long time no speak, I'm not entirely certain how we got to mid October this quickly ... I think it's my age, my Nainy always said the years whizz by as you get older ... moving on ...

All the lamps on at 10 o'clock this morning - not a bright and sunny day
I've been beavering away with my cross-stitch projects but I'm officially working on Secret Santa stuff so (just in case family members stumble across the blog) I can't share photos.
I am loving rediscovering cross-stitch, very satisfying - and perfect to complete in front of Strictly Come Dancing.

Dave Myers 'owns' Strictly with bizarre paso
Dave Myers and Karen Hauer - Photo - BBC
Speaking of which, I'm usually all about the dancing, smarting when a good dancer goes because a "people's favourite" is kept in by the viewers.  But laughter is good for you - that's official.  I think Dave Myers' paso doble might be the funniest thing I have ever seen (and I sat through lots and lots of dance competitions when my DD was younger - there were some interesting routines). 

I so hope he doesn't go out too soon, I'm not sure how he'd top the paso but I'd like to see him try!  You can see it here - enjoy!

Right, enough of Strictly (with which I am very slightly obsessed - I think it's the costumes) ... I actually did some crafting today ... well preparation for sewing but as I can't abide ironing, pinning and cutting out are my least favourite bits of the whole process I thought I'd do a batch and get it out of the way. 

Plus I need to cut out on the dining table otherwise I have no end of bother with my back (getting hit by a car will do that to you) - doing a whole heap of cutting out in one go means the table won't be out of action for months days - I'm so considerate!

I'm also testing to see if it means I'll manage to sew in the short timeslots I seem to have available to me lately.  I think it's worth a try, I'm conducting a very scientific experiment - I'm looking at my productivity over the last month (practically zero) and seeing if it improves, shouldn't be hard to measure - I like simple maths :)

Revisiting an old friend - in case you've been under a rock somewhere for about 3 years,
the free pattern is available here

I spent last weekend sorting out my wardrobe and identifying gaps.  I'm not a keen clothes shopper so decided to see if I could make as many outfits as possible with what I have.  It's glaringly obvious I need some simple shell tops to go with skirts for work.  I like sleeveless tops under cardigans (and I love cardigans).  I laid my skirts out, raided my stash for the fabulously small amounts of fabric a Sorbetto will take and got the scissors out.

I love this print and I think it will go brilliantly with a couple of grey skirts I have.
I have 75 cm length, it's 145 cm wide and I paid £6 for it at a craft fair last September

So this is the first one ready to go.  I just about squeezed out self-drafted neck facings (I'm not that keen on bias necklines unless it's made from the main fabric).  Not a scrap left for sleeves (that's fine) but I did manage to make it 2" longer, which I prefer.  So all cut out and ready to go when I move on to 'sewing up' phase.

This is the second Sorbetto I've cut out.  I got this remnant at a craft fair in June 2012 (pre-blog),
It was £4, I have a paltry 65cm of 145 cm wide fabric - again it's a lawn

I tell you this one was very tight for fabric, I couldn't even squeeze the neck facings out of matching fabric, I'll use a plain scrap of something else.  I did get the all important extra 2" length in though. I love all the different colours in this one, lends itself to different accessories, shoes and most importantly cardigans.

I had planned a Sorbetto out of this one but I don't have nearly enough
Despite the fact that the Sorbetto is so brilliant and will squeeze out of tiny amounts of fabric, I couldn't manage it this time.

I love this fabric, lots of my favourite shades in it. 
However, whilst I have just over a metre in length it is a vintage piece,
consequently only 36" wide

I bought this at the same craft fair in June 2012 where I picked up the blue piece above.  This was £4 too.  As I can't manage a top I had a rethink and this is my plan ...

The plain black is from my stash too so I'm going to make a dress,
with patterned top and plain skirt.
Having searched through my patterns, given the amounts I have to play with, I'm going to use Butterick B5450 again, as I did for my Autumn in Tokyo dress.  I love the fact that the dress will contain black and brown - I think it's going to be easy to mix and match with different accessories to vary the lookI'm hoping it will look different enough because of the 2 fabric combo.  So a dress cut out and ready to go too.

With that in mind, I decided to tackle a refashion too.  Yonks ago (when I first started to try and sew clothes in early 2012) I tackled the free Coffee Date dress that I found at Burdastyle.  Now, I have seen some brilliant versions of this dress but mine wasn't one of them - total disaster just about sums it up!

I was gutted because I'd wasted some of my favourite fabric that I bought in Swansea at Lee Mills Fabrics - I love this shop and my DS is at Uni up the road - very handy!  Because the Butterick pattern above takes so little fabric I hoped I might be able to recut and rescue my mess.  Brilliantly, it worked, with a bit of juggling and a bit of a 'free and easy' approach to the grainline!

The 2 top back pieces from the Coffee Date Dress skirt backs

I've had to do away with the centre front pleat but that
means I can squeeze this out of the previously cut Coffee Date Dress skirt front

And because, not having decided on a pattern when I bought it, I had 3 metres of this gorgeous green polka dot fabric, I have managed to cut the skirt from the untouched leftovers.  So this will be version 3 of the same pattern but, without the centre pleat it's not a direct copy cat - I have my fingers crossed I don't start looking like I'm wearing a uniform!

This is what's left of the Coffee Date Dress - I'll take it to pieces and use it
for patchwork.  Poor dress :(

So that's 4 garments cut out - I guess I'd better get on and sew something in the near future.   I'll let you know how I get on with my scientific experiment - perhaps an old dog can learn new tricks :)


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

More Craft Bags

We've been away on holiday to Lanzarote and that, combined with the pre-break manic rush at work, meant I've sewn very Iittle this month.  I have big plans but I've had very little time.  I'm pretty hopeful of getting some non-working days during October - I will start ticking stuff off my list!

Another craft bag for my DS's girlfriend.  She's a dedicated crafter who regularly enters
handmade objects in the local county fair.
I love this lining fabric, I bought it in the Isle of Wight when we were away in the summer
The fabric I used for the pockets was a purchase from Tokyo last year - I had
a super time adding bits and bobs to the print to make it 3D.
I have plenty left to make something else.
And I had enough bits and bobs cut out to make a second version for me!
With the remnants of my Harry Potter Cape lining to finish it off
As much as I love this pattern, I think I'm done with the Craftsy bags for a little while.  There are dresses I want to sew, 2 quilts to finish, dressing gowns promised to Paul and my brother ... it's quite a 'To Do' list.  Oh, and the Dress A Girl Around The World project to crack on with.  I really need to get a move on!
I am so behind with blogs I follow - I came home to hundreds of posts I want to read, I will catch up and leave comments eventually.