Knitting & Sewing

Time to start finishing this blanket.

Last night I finished the 180th square of this blanket.

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If I even mention another blanket any time soon, shoot me. I love this one but two plain granny square blankets in a year is too much. This one has half the squares already in rolls, so hopefully a few evenings will see it finished.

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I have my meagre Rowan Renew supplies left (it’s discontinued, wail….) and I’m hoarding it for a while now.

Meanwhile, the living room is getting a make over. Once you do this to the main room wall, there is no going back.

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I’m a very unsure decorator, there just isn’t enough time to really research. I’m grumpy because I wanted to buy posh paint but it doesn’t look right. And I can’t fathom a look in my head and it’s an expensive waste of paint and time if it’s awful.

However, I’ve hung a red sheet up and now I think my chosen patches may yet work.

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One thing is for sure, it won’t be brown any more!

Ps, Sherlock? What did you think???

Temporarily Diverted By….

Christmas brought me some lovely gifts….

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This year I’ve promised myself to learn 3D crochet properly and also start making small things for my home that aren’t blankets. This year will be the year of the homemaker :)

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The only possibly problem I can find with this is that after listening to a year of Terry Pratchett on Audible, I have a new Kindle and I’m rely enjoying reading again. I’ve set myself a 50 book challenge. Which means, I may be quite busy. Oh, plus I have a year of doing exciting things with our business.

See you shortly. What plans do you have for 2014?

Bene’s Christmas Stocking.

 

Last year I made Bene his very own Christmas stocking; as a January baby he was just old enough to enjoy unpacking one with some help and I wanted it to be special to him, not just bought off a peg. I have a vivid memory of the girls wanting to buy Freddie a stocking ‘ready for next year’ and looking at all the ‘First Christmas’ ones and I hated the idea of going out an negotiating all of that; I just knew it would be too painful. Besides, I had an urge to make one – the girls are all deeply attached to theirs and won’t let me replace them with home makes so Bene was my last chance. And I had plenty of felt fabric!

iPhone March 2013 340First I drew round one of the girls stockings on red felt and then I cut out the appropriate dark green add ons to make it look authentic. (I actually can’t think if I did those for both sides or if I was shockingly lazy and only did one side). I stitched the inner edges of the green bits with a decorative line of red stitches to make it look pretty before gluing them into place. Then I did blanket stitch all around the edge. Top TIP: start by going across one side of the top of the stocking first, then go round the stocking and finish off by doing the second side of the opening at the top. If you are clever, you’ll get it done all in one piece of thread. Maddy designed the train pattern to match the ‘Bene Express she woodworked for him when he was born. She glued it all on to the cloud shape, stitched around the outside edges of the main shape to give it some definition and we stuck it in place. Just perfect.

The Bene Express made by Maddy & his favourite @bigjigstoys train.

Considering hew is now totally and utterly obsessed with trains – and in particular all his lovely BigJigsRail, I think he is going to be very pleased to see it back out again.

Last year it was filled with toys like these.

iPhone March 2013 545We love our Haba Baby Toys; they feel wonderful, look gorgeous and keep little people happy for absolutely ages. I didn’t wrap most of his (I think I folded some in tissue paper) and he enjoyed just diving in and helping himself. This year I think he will be in full mental present opening mode pretty quickly. It’s going to be good to have a toddler in the house for Christmas again this year. It’s been a long time. Too long.

The one where I accidentally buy more yarn.

I’m blaming this entirely on Cosmicgirlie, who Instagrammed this T-Shirt yarn the other week. I REALLY liked the look of it and then I happened upon some of it in a large craft shop I refuse to name because they are a competitor *cough* and it was on 3 for 2 and I accidentally bought some.

I had an accident in a yarn shop and I totally blame @cosmicgirlie #crochet #tshirtyarn #uhoh

II love its name Boodles. I just love it. I want to stock it.

 

But meanwhile it is sat looking at me and I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m committing to having used it by the end of November. What shall I make?

The ripple effect.

I’m determined to do more crafting from books I already own; even though I really want to create from my own brain, I lack the skills and the only way to learn is to practise. I went to a workshop a while ago and bought a book so I thought I would try a riff on a ripple cushion by Jane Crowfoot.

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It’s the first time I’ve tried a ripple, though I’ve eyed up the Attic 24 ripple for ages.

This has inspired me to try a blanket soon; it’s just so restful to do!

I’ve altered the colours and pattern a little on mine, plus I’m using Rowan Hand Knit cotton, but I think it will make a great floor cushion eventually.

Stash Busting Beanie Hat & Scarf in Variegated Wool

I’ve been trying to get back into knitting with some quick and easy projects to use up the vast quantity of yarn holding up my bed. It’s no fun when even you know you shouldn’t buy any more. Plus, I really love making blankets, but you do have to wait a long time for the ‘finished project’ buzz – and  I had promised Maddy a hat and scarf after making Fran a scarf while I was pregnant with Bene.

Newly contact lensed up and sporting mummy knitted beanie and scarf. #knitting

The hat comes from 101 Designer Yarn Stash Wonders which my lovely Mother in Law got me a year or so back – part of my resolution also involved trying to make some things from the many magazines and books I own. It’s knitted on 5mm DPNS and has a spiral pattern worked into it by purling blocks of stitches that change by 1 each time. I loved knitting it although I didn’t like using 5mm DPNS with the yarn I had chosen so much. I’m not clever enough to work out how to alter the size of it to make it knit-able on 4mm needles. It’s a 79 stitch round with a pattern that repeats on 11 stitches – is there a formula?

Anyway, the yarn is Adriafil Knitcol and it works beautifully on the beanie. I wasn’t sure on the instructions in the book and measured from the brim unrolled but I wish I had measured with it rolls and made it a little bigger. Maddy likes it though. It took about 2/3 of a ball.

The scarf is just a knit 2, purl 2 rib across 40 stitches on 4.5mm needles. Really easy and, with pattern matching, took about 2 1/2 balls. So you could easily make the 2 things in 3 balls if the scarf was slightly shorter (I had an OCD moment about having a matching line of the fake fair isle stripe near each end) which means they’d cost less than £13 to make. A result I’d say and she absolutely loves them.

If you don’t want to buy a book, I’m gradually collecting ideas for patterns for hats, scarves, gloves and socks on this Pinterest board.

Home Improvements; in the words of the monkey, “It is time.”

You may have heard that there is a new blog index on the block, the HIBS100. I’m remarkably grumpy about not being eligible to join this one (it has to be mostly about pretty home type-y things) and it’s given me quite a kick up the bum. With the absence of any home ed to keep talking about and limited time to actually do craft, working 3-4 days a week and the increasing ages of the girls meaning I really CAN’T keep writing about them in detail, there feels a lot less to blog about these days. But one thing that absolutely HAS to happen over the next couple of years is that for various reasons (sanity, happiness and maintenance) is some home improvements. And I really want to make the house more personal, more US, while I do it.

It always makes me a bit sad that I was desperate to have a home of my own for so long while we rented and yet since we’ve been here, I’ve somehow totally failed to stamp myself on the place. It feels like it is time to change that. For a start, we exist in too much chaos. The decluttering project earlier in the year did a really good job of getting rid of mess and that has made it easier but no longer having the luxury of a cleaner means I keep noticing places where clearly she cleaned regularly and I DO NOT! The house is only 7 years old but we are cursed with cheap beige carpets that we can’t afford to change, a limited budget and mostly cream walls. It’s all feeling rather tired and dirty. And my god I wish they’d all put stuff away.

Still, Bene now has a really nice room and that gave me quite a lot of confidence in trying to find ways to make small scale, not too expensive ways to improve other places in the house.

House improvement job of the weekend #1. Admin shelf.

One of my quick fixes the other week was to add a purse/glasses/letters shelf at the bottom of the stairs. I really liked the shelf, which wasn’t too expensive at £24.50 and it has been a handy spot (combined with me finally organising myself into using a regular bag again, so I don’t constantly lose everything I need to leave the house) for lots of things, including my MADs Award, which is living there till I find a better spot :)

My hallway list currently involves:-

  • make a curtain for the door
  • make and put up a picture of our name coasters
  • put up a piece of collaborative art near the door
  • find a better shoe solution (though this has to wait till Bene safer on the stairs)

This made me happy too.
And his room is done. Finished off with curtains I made for our first house 16+ years ago.

A gorgeous gift from a friend to signify Bene’s rainbow status and curtains I made for our very first home but hardly used, hung up and looking lovely. His room has become a really nice play space for us all and I love it.

The to do list includes:-

  • lock for the slightly inconveniently situated craft cupboard
  • some jungle pictures for the bare walls
  • toy organisation solutions

Last weekend, in readiness for more prettying and to try to lift the feel of the house ready for winter, we RugDoctored it from top to bottom. Our carpets are awful though I try to feel better about it as they’ve basically had 24/7 wear for 6 years from 6 people – home educating is not kind to homes. I reckon this means my house is closer to 25 years of living in it that 6. The cleaning made a huge difference and the house feels so much nicer.

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I think that if I can scrub down the walls and skirting boards (I’ve made a start on this with floor wipes but I’m going through rather a lot of them!) and add some pictures, it will look really different.

The list has:-

  • ponder a hall way ‘girl photos’ gallery
  • repaint the lower half of the walls in something slightly different, maybe just silky?
  • get some rugs
  • make some artwork for the walls
  • find some Paul Corfield prints. How I wish I had bought the ones I saw cheaply!

Love it. Buttons forever.
Anyway, that’s enough to be going on with. My big think – which is starting to come together thanks to the lights I made a while ago – is the living room which is making me grumpy with all its brown. I have some ideas now, but it will have to wait till after Christmas I think. And I’m busy with some finishing touches to my bedroom too which I actually really like (although one of the projects is a BIG blanket I’m only 1/2 way through!)

Half a blanket made. Need a break so going to make some socks for a while :)

Cat Crafts.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have been forced to endure my humiliating re-entry into Fimo modelling the other week as I attempted to get to grips with making model cats. I can’t believe quite how much ability I have lost in 20 months or so of not picking up any polymer clay. It’s not like I’m brilliant at the best of times but somehow seeing how clever some people are on the internet has made me worse – well that and total lack of practice!

Still, I really wanted to get back into doing some crafts for here and on my various other websites, so it seemed a good time to force myself to get back to it. I looked to Pinterest for inspiration, tried my hand at some fast cat shapes… and totally failed. After two days, I had come up with no more than the poorer elements of this batch of reprobates.

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Before anyone compliments the black one… that was Maddy’s. Yep. She did better than me in one go!

I decided that I’d have to try harder. I hate it when the girls give up without achieving what they set out to do, so thought I should aim to take my own advice. I sat down with some books, worked on some more cattish techniques (I wonder if not being a cat person didn’t help?) and eventually had faces I liked. These two seemed quite interesting little chaps, even if not quite what I had intended. Thank you for the inspiration Christi Friesen.

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And with that… some cats appeared… I ended up really quite pleased with these two.
Fimo Wizard Cats

There is now a tutorial on how to make them over at Simple Crafts. As a humbling reminder of how much a skill requires exercising to keep it, it worked well :/

Since then, a few other things have got made too…

Hama Bead CatsThe girls were coerced into making Hama Bead Cats for me which are featuring on BeadMerrily.

We’ve experimented with pom poms to make cats… I’ve got a tabby and a tortoiseshell to finish too.

pompom cats

And Maddy finished off her cat bag too.

catbag

You’ll be able to find how too of all of these on Simple Crafts over the next few days (scheduled posts.. go me!)

If you want some more inspiration, you could visit my Cat Crafts Board on Pinterest.

 

Summer Sewing

I used to really love sewing but somehow I just haven’t had time recently and my trusty sewing machine languished dustily in the garage. I finally got it serviced, only for someone to snap the bobbin holder off and then I… tried to fix it. With superglue. Which dripped down into the workings.

Bum.

Luckily I remembered a cheque my Nana had sent me for Christmas which I had tucked away and not banked, so I decided to treat myself to a sewing machine. Fran and Amelie were both keen to do some sewing too and it seemed a nice opportunity to actually do some making of things together. Although in the end a busy holiday and a broken foot slightly squashed our actual time for that, quite a bit of making did happen and I’ve got good plans for the next few months too.

Spent my Christmas present money from my lovely nana on a new sewing machine. Quite lovely.

My new baby.

Fran's summer sewing.
Fran did a really nice job of a cushion as a first practice of sewing straight, turning corners and being reasonably accurate.
Fran's summer sewing.

Then she moved on to a drawstring bag (now being used for gym stuff so at least useful!) and did pretty well with that too. I need to find a good pattern for a lined bag. I’m never really happy.
Fran's summer sewing.
This was using up some old pieces of fat quarter she butchered years ago – scraps have been used up. Hurrah!

Fran's summer sewing.
Pin cushion was basic but effective in its role ;)

Fran's summer sewing.
Fab little purse we made a pattern up for ourselves. I’m going to blog this as I was very pleased with it :)
She’s now working on a dress but we’ve stalled as we need interfacing and life has been a rush. I have a whole roll of it somewhere or other. Sigh.

I’ve got a Pinterest board filled with sewing projects. Feel free to let me know of anything you think I might enjoy making.

Guest Post: Lazy Seamstress Woollen Newborn Baby Clothes Bundle

This weeks 10 Year Blog Anniversary comes from Jeanette at Lazy Seamstress. Jeanette and I have ‘known’ each other for years online, since I first frequented the home birth yahoo groups in my elusive hope of a trouble free baby birthing. She and I have since become even more closely linked after mutually losing our own precious 5th babies; Jeanette lost her daughter Florence shortly after birth due to a massive pulmonary hemorrhage  a year before we lost Freddie to an unknown cause. I recall being deeply affected by hearing of the loss of Florence and Jeanette was one of the first to bring love and understanding to my after I announced Freddie’s death. She has been the source of friendship, support and love ever since and I value her kinship enormously, albeit through paths we both wish we had not had to walk.

I’m incredibly honoured to have this beautiful sewing tutorial on the blog today. The pattern pieces are linked below and there is a full reproduction of the instructions in a pdf at the bottom.

Thank you Jeanette, for everything.

***

Newborn Bundle – a free pattern and tutorial from Lazy Seamstress.

1I love to see a newborn baby snuggled up in footed leggings and a matching beanie. No matter the time of year, newborn babies still need a little help keeping their tiny toes cosy, and often a hat too, so these footed leggings and matching beanie made from recycled sweaters are perfect.
I usually use sweaters I’ve found in the charity shops, but my relatives also save me old sweaters to use. My father in law is a good source of old golf sweaters. I prefer cashmere or angora mixes, but lambs wool is good too, as is cotton. Actually the beauty of this project is you can pretty much use any old sweater you fancy, or t shirt for that matter! I would suggest a fine to medium weight sweater works best; it doesn’t matter if it’s been shrunk in the wash, so long as it’s not too heavily felted. Sweaters with a few moth holes can be used too, but wash first in as hot water as the garment can stand (remember some felting is ok) to kill any tiny moth eggs that night still be present. If washing in hot water isn’t an option, you can freeze the sweater to kill any eggs before washing as normal. Remember when cutting out to avoid any moth holes. T shirts work well too, preferably t shirts with a good amount of stretch. Of course, you can use any stretch fabric that takes your fancy; you don’t have to recycle anything. Have fun and experiment. These really are quite simple and quick to make, and are a lovely gift for any newborn baby.

2What you need:
Access to a printer to print the pattern pieces
Scissors (paper and fabric)
Sellotape
Sweater or t shirt, medium sized is usually sufficient, but a larger sweater gives you more fabric to play with.
Matching sewing thread
Pins
5mm flat elastic, approx. 40 cms
Buttons for decoration
Sewing machine (optional: over locker)
Iron and ironing board

3Step 1:
Print out the pattern pieces. Do not scale to fit. There are four pages, match each set of two pages together and stick with sellotape.
Step 2:
Cut out the pattern pieces.

4Step 3:
Press your chosen sweaters.

5NB: For this tutorial, I have used two different sweaters. When using sweaters from charity shops, it’s not always easy to predict what exactly you will be working with. I have used a cashmere ladies sweater and a cotton mix ladies cardigan. This tutorial now splits into two parts, a beanie hat and mitten tutorial followed by a footed legging tutorial.

6Part 1:Beanie Hat and Mittens Tutorial

Step 1:
Work out where your hat and mitten pieces will fit on your chosen sweater. Usually this will be with the bottom edge of each piece on the hem of the sweater, to make best use of the ribbing. If all pieces will not fit along the hem, remember you can use the sleeve ribbing edge too. Once you are happy with your placement, keeping the pieces aligned with the straight grain of the fabric, pin in place. Cut out your pieces.

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Step 2:

With right sides together pin and tack your mittens and beanie with a 1 cm seam allowance, sew machine seams, back stitching at the beginning and end. If your chosen fabric is felted or a cotton interlock that does not fray, there is no need to neaten these seams, just trim carefully, remembering each seam will be next to baby’s skin so needs to be as unobtrusive as possible. (This is why I like to use cashmere or angora mixes, and also why well washed and worn older garments work well).

8If neatening is required, use an overlocker if you have one, if not an overlock or zig zag stitch on a regular sewing machine works well.
Turn the mittens and beanie, right side out and press with a warm steam iron, shaping as you go.
Finish the beanie with decorative buttons. Ensure any buttons used are secured very well. Buttons can be a choking hazard so should be stitched on firmly. I like to secure the back using a buttonhole stitch.

9Part 2: Footed Leggings

A note about cutting out: Experiment with your sweater to see where your legging pieces will fit before cutting out. Ensure each piece is cut on the straight grain. (Stretch running sideways.) If you prefer you can use the ribbing edge of the sweater as your waist edge on the leggings, meaning there is no need to neaten that top edge or make a casing if that’s your preferred method. (If you prefer to make a casing, remember to add an extra 2.5cms to the top edge *before* cutting out)

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Step1:

With right sides together stitch each upper foot piece to each front legging piece. Trim and press seam.
Step 2:

Sew centre front and centre back seams, Trim and press.

Step 3:

With right sides together stitch front and back of leggings together, Trim and press, shaping around the toes as you do.

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Step4:

Neaten top edge, using either a zig zag stitch or an overlock stitch

Step 5:

Cut 38cms of elastic (the average waist size of a newborn baby). Fold your elastic in half lengthwise and pin the centre to the centre front seam of the leggings, about 1cm down from the top edge. Divide each half in half again and pin to side seams. Join the ends and pin in place at the centre back seam.
Starting at the centre back secure the elastic in place using a three step zig zag stitch (If your machine doesn’t have a three step zig zag, a regular zig zag will suffice.) Gently pull on the elastic to stretch it to fit between each seam, and stitch with the three step (or regular) zig zag, keeping the elastic 1cm away from the top edge. The elastic will pull in the waist to the correct size.

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Complete with matching beanie and mittens following the instructions in part 1.

A few notes about this pattern and tutorial:
This pattern and tutorial is for personal use only. Please DO NOT use this pattern or tutorial to make items to sell.
If you do use this pattern or tutorial, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me Jeanette@lazyseamstress.net
If you feature any items made with this pattern or tutorial on your own blog, website or social networking site, please do link back to me at www.lazyseamstress.net
Thank you, I hope you enjoy making some snuggly woolly loveliness for the babies in your life.