Makes & mends

Aloha!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks in my craft room, with several small projects going on as well as the long-haul Mending Challenge.  One of these ‘small projects’ has turned out bigger than expected so I think I’ll give it a post all to itself at some point!  But here are some of my recent activities…A belly dance coin headdress for my dancing pal L. who wanted something in red and gold.  I’ll be honest, when this coin trim arrived from eBay I was not overly impressed.  It looked VERY cheap and plastic-y and wouldn’t really hang the way I wanted it to.  However with a bit of fraffing around I got it looking OK.  Happily once on the wearer the overall effect is pretty good and L. was pleased, so all’s well that ends well.  (But I shan’t be buying any more!)I made myself a pin cushion!  I loved the last one so much that I decided I deserved one of my very ownI’ve found the felt-ball chimney is handy for keeping my needles from disappearing whilst I’m sewingThe flowers still look a bit triffid-like mind you, but check out the funky wheel arches!  I confess that the Mending Pile hasn’t had much attention these last couple of weeks, except for doing a make-over on a charity shop shirt I found a while back.  Someone somewhere had added this rather hideous lace cuff to it; part of a costume for an AmDram production of The Crucible, perhaps??Meanwhile the manufacturers hadn’t helped by attaching a panel of dirty-looking lace along the button band (on the left in the pic).  Offending lace removed (as shown on the right), it’s actually a rather fine, Channel-your-Inner-Stevie-Nicks-type shirt and I look forward to wearing it when things warm up a little.  Job’s a good ‘un!And speaking of charity shops, if you live in the Hereford area or are visiting, I can recommend a trip to the fabulous Rose Tinted Rags, run by local charity Echo and packed full of fabrics, trims, threads, patterns, you name it – it’s a sewist’s dream!  A friend and I went recently and I bagged 3.5m of Liberty lawn for £5 & various other bits including some beautiful space-dyed perle cotton embroidery threads for just 75p each.  (Don’t tell everyone though…!)Wishing you all a very colourful & creative weekend 🙂

Winter Crochet Report

Winter is ALMOST over, hurray! And it’s feeling pretty spring-like here: the crocuses are out even if it IS still a bit chilly.  But I have braved the March winds and emerged from my hibernation, and I thought I’d begin by sharing with you some of my finished crochet projects from the dark months…

So, first up, YES, I did finish the purple alpaca jumper!  And I have worn it to death ever since!  It’s very warm and snuggly without being too weighty, which is exactly what I wanted.  It did look pretty smart when first completed but it’s already begun to pile rather disappointingly (shall I name names, Drops Alpaca yarn??) as you can doubtless see from these pictures.   Hopefully this will be temporary!  I pretty much followed a freebie pattern from African Expressions (download HERE, code 6006) using my trusty size F hook.  However their tension square/size guide made no sense to me whatsoever so I just measured an existing jumper and worked it out for myself.  My main other changes were to leave the bottom 3″ of the side seams free (tunic-style) and add two rows of the shell edging from the bottom to the sleeve cuffs as well.  I am chuffed to bits that I can make wearable jumpers and am now working on No.2!Inspired by this success, I decided to have a go at something lacey and complicted!  Ages ago I was given a skein of beautiful hand-dyed Araucania Botany Lace yarn and I’ve been pondering what to make with it ever since.  This Whole New Concept of crocheting my own clothes, plus the revelation that lightweight things can keep you warm led me to alight on THIS PATTERN by Girlie’s Crochet for a sassy bolero-shrug-type thing. The pattern actually looks more complex than it is, and because you join-as-you-go the squares, it turned out to be quite a quick make.  It also turned out that a 100g/415m skein was about 5g short of what I needed!  So: VERY many thanks to my lovely friend M. who came up with something suitable from her stash for me for the edging!  I think the contrasting yarn works rather nicely don’t you? – And I’m especially chuffed with the little shamrock ends on the ties!Now I bet you’re wondering what became of that marathon project, my take on Attic 24’s Cosy Stripe, the Boho Blanket?Whoo-Hoo!!  Finished just after Xmas, so yay, I DID achieve my aim of getting it on my bed before the year was out!I do totally love the way this turned out, with it’s sumptuous mini-granny-square border, finished with a combi of Cosy Blanket edging and a dinky picot.  The colours feel so gloriously gorgeous and it brightens up my dingy bedroom so much!  For the record it took ONE HUNDRED AND SIX squares to go right around this blanket and no, I will NOT be making another one.  EVER…And while we’re on the subject of squares, I have also spent very many an evening hook in hand engrossed in some DVD or other, and turned out yet another bunch of these to send off to KAS-CareI’ve been experimenting with making super-chunky squares by crocheting a thinnish yarn in one colour together with lots of odds and ends of other colours and weights.  These were done with a size G (4.25mm) hook and are great stash-busters!  (I think of them as my ‘Blake’s 7 squares’ as they took me the whole of Season 1 do…)Not content with sending them my own squares, I also unearthed some my mum had made aeons ago and offloaded passed on to me, together with a big bag of yarn.  So I had fun adding extra borders to make them up to size and into the parcel they go!I hope you’ve all had a cosy winter and are ready to venture forth into Spring!  As usual I have more projects lined up for this year than I will ever finish in a lifetime, but hey at least I’ve got plenty to choose from!

Wishing you all a very cheery week 🙂

Winter crochet projects

Brr, I don’t know about you but it’s FREEZING here in the Marches at the moment!  This morning the water in the top of my rain barrel was frozen solid, and it didn’t thaw out all day.  Times like these, the best place to be is snuggled on the sofa with some cosy winter crochet projects.  And since it is properly cold now, my creative thoughts seem to be rather pre-occupied with making things to keep me warm!

Remember about a year ago, when I started an Attic 24 Cosy Stripe blanket project for myself?  And then I saw this lovely version with a granny square border and was inspired to do something similar?  Uh-huh…  Well, it took me about 2 months to crochet the blanket, and I am STILL working on the border!  In fact I Lost the Will with this project over the summer, but recently I’ve picked it up again and have now made what I HOPE is all the granny squares, so maybe it will even be finished and on my bed before the year is out, who knows…?!somanysquaresNow, another past project with which I Lost The Will was my first attempt at crocheted clothing – the granny square ENORMO-CARDIE, way back in Feb 2014.  It’s taken me quite a while to get over that particular disaster, but I thought I’d have another go, this time at a nice simple jumper.  And it’s coming along rather well, as you can see!  Watch this space for a WhooHoo any day now!purplealpaca1

Right, that’s it – the sofa is beckoning…

Wishing you all a very warm & cosy week 🙂

Catherine Wheel bags

bothbagsI do love a nice colourful crochet bag, don’t you? So much fun to make, so useful to have!  I fell in love with this design from Cozy Things blog, and following her instructions I soon figured out how to make one for myself.  And then I made another!

The base is worked as a flat circle of treble crochet (double in US terms); Cozy Things recommends the very wonderful Attic 24 bag tutorial for this, which you can find HERE.bagbottomThe main part of the bag uses Catherine Wheel stitch, worked in rounds rather than rows.  This is a new stitch to me!  I get a real kick out of learning new crochet techniques and this stitch is actually very simple, although the finished result looks quite advanced, doesn’t it?!  I found this great tutorial by The Crochet Crowd, and had it nailed in no time.  springbagI did an out-and-out copy of Cozy Things’ version on my first bag, even down to finishing the top edge with Attic 24’s Bobble Shell Edging.  The handles are 6 rows of double crochet (US single) worked into a chain of 100 stitches.  I did do my own flower design though, with a cute little button in the middle!floweCUThis was a really super-quick make, and I had so much fun doing it that I immediately began another.  I went off camping for a few days last week, and since each bag takes less than 50g of DK in each colour to make, it was a perfect little project to take with me.  One of my favourite holiday pastimes is to lounge around my campsite crocheting in the sun, so my second bag was finished by the time I got back!purplebagoutsideThe sunshine has really distorted the colours here, the middle stripes are actually deep green.  I did a slightly different top edge this time round too, but don’t ask me what stitch I used ‘cos I made it up as I went along whilst sitting in my tent!   The flower went a bit wonky on the second bag but hey ho…overexposedshotI reckon they make quite a groovy pair!

Wishing you all a wheelly (haha!) great week 🙂

Purple Ponte Skater

Front1I was SO chuffed with my last Lady Skater dress success that I thought I’d make another to help me get a handle on Cosmic Lulu‘s stretch stitch functions.  Of which there are many – some of them, I’ve discovered, better suited to particular jobs than others!  But despite a shaky start, this dress has also turned out pretty good, and very wearable.Front2This is a medium-weight synthetic ponte from those lovely folk at The Textile Centre.  It was meant to be a quick sew to fill in that ‘Hmm-Spring-Still-Feels-Like-Winter-Today’ gap in my wardrobe.  HOWEVER, it nearly didn’t happen at all, as I stupidly had only ordered one metre of fabric instead of two, and by the time I realised it was GONE from TTC’s website – ARGH!  Cue, Desperate Pleading Email!  But the wonderful Jane saved the day by finding me the very last remnant – hurray!  Thanks, Jane 🙂skirtySo off I went, and soon had the hang of the triple stretch stitch.  Brilliant!  Now, what about this standard overlock stitch for my armhole seams, I thought?  Bad, BAD idea!  They went seriously wibbly.  And y’know how people say you can’t unpick overlocking? – turns out they’re right.  I had to re-sew the seams and cut away the original stitching.  Here it is just before the hacking trimming.sleevemessI pretty much stuck to using the triple stretch after that, and it all came together fine.  This ponte is a bit clingier than the jersey I used last time, but I went with exactly the same pattern alterations as before, so it wasn’t until I saw the photos of my wonderful sway-back adjustment that I realised how many VBLs (that’s Visible Bra Lines) were on show!BackYou may have noticed that this dress is in a SOLID COLOUR!  Yep, it’s true: even I have moments when a plain(ish) dress is the order of the day.  However, I couldn’t really leave it entirely plain now, could I?!  Especially when my gorgeous new machine has SO MANY stitch functions to choose from.  How about a nice bit of bright orange decorative top-stitching around the neck, hem, and cuffs?  YES please!detailmontageAnd yay – those sleeves didn’t turn out too badly after all!SleeveyWonderIt may have been a glorious evening when these pics were taken in my garden (many thanks to brother Rob for making it all look so good!), but overall it’s been a pretty chilly May here in the Marches, so I’ve had more opportunities to wear this dress than I expected this month.  I’ll admit that I don’t love it as much as the last one, but it does what I wanted of it, and I had loads of fun doing the top-stitching.

So now I’ve done a stretch jersey dress, what next?  Weeeelllll, there’s a something a bit special in my stash I’ve been saving for a long time, until I had the machine to do it….FacePullingFrontWHAT?? – VELVET?!? – You must be JOKING!!

Wishing you all a GLORIOUS weekend 🙂

Day Trip to Fabric Heaven!

goodiebag

Last year, my friend Mary and I planned to go on an indulgent, fabric-lovers day trip to Birmingham to visit the famous Rag Market and The Fancy Silk Store…. and it didn’t happen, for various reasons.

This year – IT DID!!!  Last weekend, we boarded the train with our sewing plans and yardage requirements and off we went!

Seriously, if you’ve never visited the Fancy Silk Store and you have even the slightest inkling of a Fabric Addiction, I urge you to go.  It is literally floor-to-cieling stacked with fabrics, on every floor!

Ooh, SO hard to resist going crazy and doubling my fabric stash in an afternoon!  But, I had a budget, I had specific projects in mind, and I DID manage to be fairly restrained.  I swooned over the batiks though, and first up was this soft, lightweight beauty, destined (I hope) to become the Kate & Rose Giselle Dressgreen&yellowbatikBut I couldn’t stop there…. this one has a bit more body and I think will make a nice strappy sundress.  (Possibly with shirring, if I’m feeling ambitious?)purplebatikThen over the road in the Rag Market, while M. was off buying gorgeous curtaining for her new pad, I spotted this fabulous, 70s-wallpaper-print pin cord.  Aha!  The very thing I’ve been waiting for to make this vintage 70s overdress for the winter.  See? – it’s all part of the plan, honest…cordAll in all it was a Grand Day Out and I think we may have to make this into an annual pilgramage.  And did I stay within my budget?  Weeellll… so hard to be restrained, plus y’know the Giselle dress requires elastic, so I had to buy a metre which put me over budget by….stashtastic…25p!

Wishing you all a Fabric-tastic Friday 🙂

 

WhooHoo! Purple Waves blanket!

Finished2I said I’d do it before I moved, and here it is!  Warm and cosy on my bed in all it’s purple wavy glory: the Purple Waves ripple blanket!

Not much more to add to my previous post, except that I followed Lucy’s Ripple Blanket Know How tutorial for the edging and the corners and it was spot on, as always.  I did a row of trebles along each long edge, ‘filled in’ the ripples top and bottom, and then did two rounds of double crochet all the way around.  I didn’t bother to steam-block my corners, mainly because IT’S COLD and I couldn’t wait to get this baby on my bed!  But I think they look fine anyway.FinishedEdging

The size worked out perfectly, it finished up at 72″ x 64″, which as you can see completely covers my double-sized bed with just a little surplus around the edges.  Exactly what I was after!Finished1

I think this is probably my most accomplished crochet project to date, and the first time I’ve made something where I didn’t make any mistakes (that I’m aware of!).  I’m SO CHUFFED with this blanket!!!  It’s purple and it’s wavy and it’s soft and warm and it kept me happily occupied through all the darkest part of winter, who could ask for more??Finished3 Right, who’s for an early night with a hot water bottle…Finished4Have a cosy week one and all! 🙂

Purple Waves Pt 2: the blanket (almost)

BlanketRipplesDone2Remember back in November, I embarked on my winter crochet project of making a double-bed sized Attic24 ripple blanket? – My ripples are DONE!!!  Yes, that’s 142 rows of 227 stitches, 71 ripples in total.  Can I say, wow??

I have absolutely LOVED working these lush pink and purple rows.  I’ve mostly been working on it in the evenings by the fire, though I did take it with me to the folks’ over Xmas (and now have an order for two more!) and indulged in quite a bit of hooky time in front of the TV.  So I’ve just started on the edging, and am really hoping it will be finished before I move house in a couple of weeks!  It would be so nice to have it all done and on my bed here before I leave….BlanketRipplesDone1

Wishing you all a very warm and snuggly weekend! 🙂