Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet. I intend to use this blog as a showcase for my latest crafting endeavours and to provide detailed reviews of patterns, kits and accessories on the market along with details on where to find everything yourself, should I inspire you to try it out. Please feel free to comment on my posts, provide your own thoughts on the subject, answer questions and even suggest posts.

It has always been my goal to add a post every Wednesday, but due to current circumstances posts may be as scarce as once a month. Appologies and I hope to return to my weekly posting shortly.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Ziggys baby sampler

Before she was even conceived, I knew what birth sampler I was going to do for my daughter! I'd seen it years ago and even though it was a picture and not an actual sampler, I had known that it was the only thing that would do for my daughter! It was a Mirabilia design called "fairy Tales" that had been released back in 1996! I absolutely adored it and spent years tracking the pattern down only to find myself unable to start it once I actually found out that I was pregnant. I couldn't understand it, I had wanted to do this for my child for years! Still...I couldn't start it. I didn't know why and spent months trying to motivate myself to start, I still loved it! Finally, I realized why I couldn't start it.

At first I hadn't known my babys gender, then I was convinced that she was a boy and as much as I love the design...it is a girls design. Somehow, I have no idea how, we settled on a bear theme for the nursery and even though I found out that Ziggy would be a girl, the design had absolutely no place in that room. It would stick out like a sore thumb and I really wanted to put it in that room! As much as I loved the design, I had known from the start that it wouldn't work. Not for what I wanted. I was disappointed, but I still adore the piece, so I will simply have to stitch it for myself later, but that did leave me with a problem... what was I going to stitch for her room?

Clearly it had to mesh with the bear theme. It had to be cute enough to suit the room, but I didn't want it to be babyish and it had to be something that both my husband and I liked. Easier said than done! Bear related birth samplers are surprisingly not the most common theme, and the ones that are out there tend to be with other things too or else really small, really childish or just ugly. It took us forever to find any that we liked! Finally we got lucky and found this lovely bear sampler from Tobin home crafts. It was the only one we really liked, and even then I was still unsure about it. Something about it just wasn't quite right and I couldn't put my finger on it, still... it was either this or nothing, so I went ahead and ordered the kit.

Designer: Tobin Home Crafts
Pattern: Tobin Baby - T21711
Available from: Sew and so
Price: £21.99
The kit arrived on the 8th of May and once I held it in my hands I knew right away what it was that was bugging me about the design. All the bears were boys! That and the stupid green stars in the border just look odd! Both problems were easily fixed! I would change two of the bears into girls and get rid of those stupid green stars! I began working immediately!

I started on the little bear in the bottom left and was surprised to find I'd finished his entire head in only one day! The design was just so much fun to work up! Once I started on it, I could not put it down! I loved every stitch and had finished him in only four days!!! I enjoyed stitching him so much and he looked so cute that at some point during those four days we had started calling him Upsie, the butterfly and part of the rattle came next and my husband and I being as we are, we decided to name the butterfly Bird, the reference for that choice being Bambi.

Next it was Sweetpeas turn, that's the one with the blanket and you pronounce it sweepy, (No, I don't know why we named them all, but we did) and she had to be changed. She was going to be one of my girls, but obviously if I changed the colours using kit thread then I would not have enough to do the actual charted part in that colour, so I chose a similar set of pinks from my stash and changed her romper from blue to pink and her blanket trim from pink to blue. One little colour swap and it made such a huge change to the overall look and feel of the design! It no longer felt like a boys sampler, the pink lifted it and made it lighter, without making it girly. I loved the change and felt empowered by it because it had worked so well!

Nest up was Scoot Scoot, that's the bear in the top right with the bonnet and the nappy. The only bear without blocks, so we've also decided that the present contains a block. You can probably tell just how much fun I was having with this design by the fact that we made up so much background information on the bears! But that's when the heatwave hit and I got really ill, I actually had three trips to hospital in the space of one week! My progress slowed quite dramatically and there were days where I either couldn't do much or couldn't touch it at all! Still, I enjoyed the work and Scoot Scoot was eventually finished.

Last came Baby Hope, who was also the hardest to name and the second bear to be treated to a gender swapping colour change. Out went her blue T-shirt and it was replaced with the same pink treatment I had given Sweetpea. Once again I felt the change helped to life the piece and change the feel of it quite beautifully. I could put this in my little girls room with pride and confidence!

That said, I must confess that the border was irritating. The long lines of yellow were incredibly tedious to work, and I'm so glad I'd chosen to work them as I worked the main design because the thought of putting them in all at once is daunting to say the least! The horrible green stars were replaced with purple stars to match the rest of the design and although the stars and hearts were small and fiddly, I even enjoyed working those. Heck, I even enjoyed the single stitch of blue between the motifs once I'd figured out an invisible way to secure the tail of the thread.

I finished on the 4th of July having spent only 32 stitching days on it! I was still pregnant and the final section could not be completed for...I didn't know how long. It was a bittersweet moment as I packed it back into the bag as I really loved it, but was sad to have finished it so soon. Still...I'd be getting it out again within a month to add her final birthing details and this one...this one we're getting professionally laced and framed! The piece and my daughter both deserve it!

If you're looking for a birth sampler, I honestly cannot recommend this one enough. It's such a delight to work, well worth the money I paid and it fits all my criteria for a good design.

Ziggys rather long princess dress

August brought an end to my pregnancy and saw me blessed with the most perfect little girl! Not the big baby we had all been expecting, but a tiny miracle! At 7.14 she didn't sound all that small, but tiny baby/early baby clothing, which is meant for babies up to 6lb, hung off her tiny frame. The weight...all in her legs as at 4weeks she's actually longer than my torso! Needless to say virtually everything I made for her is way too big for her at the moment and store bought clothing doesn't have the length she needs without drowning her, so she's mostly been hanging around in vests.

I'm very lucky though because not only is my little girl absolutely beautiful, but she's perfectly healthy and ever so well behaved!This means I've had the opportunity to work up a dress that actually fits her, although it looks somewhat strange on the hanger. More like a gown than a dress because it's so long but...

Designer: Elana Nodel
Pattern: Maxi top/Dress for babies
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free Download
I'm a little late getting this out there because I actually staarted and finished this project in August! I'd chosen it because it's completely seamless and since it's worked top down I could make sure that I got the length right, which is very important when your childs legs are in clothing made for 3month olds while tiny baby is still large on the chest. Folowing a pattern exactly is not an option!Fortunately the adaption for this design is literally "work in pattern until it fits"

The pattern is designed to use two yarns, although you could work it i just the one if you wanted to. I chose two King Cole yarns (Baby Glitz and Melody). I went for the solid, sparkly pink Glitz as a contrast yarn, which I actuallypicked first, and then went for the pink and white melody to compliment it as I think the bands of soft pink in the main colour tie the bolder contrast yarn in beautifully while the white softens the colours and just works fantastically!

The pattern itself was really simple and easy to follow, making it a perfect project to work on while nursing as I could pick it up and put it down without much thought. It's written as either a tunic or a dress with two hemming options, I opted for a dress with the second, more ruffled edge.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Forever Friends alphabet hanging

You'll notice that my stitching is keeping to a bear theme at the moment, I'm sure it will pass with time and I'll be back to stitching other themes in time, but until then...there are worse things than bears! Embrace the bears.
Designer: Anchor
Pattern: Learn the Alphabet - FRc97
Available from:
So my latest stitching project is an educational one, I wanted to hang an alphabet in the nursery's reading corner, something pretty and interesting enough that my daughter would enjoy looking at it, but clear enough that she could use it as a learning aid. I didn't want anything boring, or too cluttered and again it had to fit with the room too, so I began to look for one and came up with this one and a similar one featuring tatty teddy. The tatty teddy one would have gone well with the other picture in that corner, while this one goes well with the border wallpaper that we used. We settled on this one as my husband liked it a bit better and I didn't want to have to face tatty teddys backstitch with a newborn around (I ordered it on the 5th of July, it arrived on the 7th and I was due to give birth on the 26th) since I figured that caring for a newborn would leave me with very small slots of stitching time, and tatty teddy needs long periods of concentration for that backstitch.

Anyway, it arrived on Teusday morning, my only piece of mail, naturally I had to start it right away! So I began making copies of the chart so I could mark off my progress as I worked and I have to say, the charts for this design are fantastic! Because of the size of the design, and the fact that the company has opted for a large enough print hat you can easily see the symbols, it's two A3 charts, but they're double sided with one side having the full chart while the other has the cross stitch symbols only, making it even easier to read as you don't have to try and struggle to make out the symbols beneath the backstitch. I wish more companies did charts like this! Sure, it's more paper, but it makes a world of difference when you're trying to follow the chart! Large symbols and a purely symbols chart...Well done Anchor! Thank you!

After I'd made my copies and loaded them onto my tablet/laptop I began work on the design right away. Starting in the middle I'm ashamed to say I didn't count properly and had to frog part of the letter out almost immediately, putting my center point slightly out (to the left by 1 stitch and about three stitches too high) fortunately there's a rather generous amount of fabric, and my mistake is small enough that it doesn't actually make much difference as there's enough room to center it properly when it comes to framing.

I'm not the only one making silly mistakes though, as I found out after completing the cross stitch on that first letter, when I attempted to separate the floss and begin the backstitch... the length of floss they had supplied me had been joined in the middle with a knot meaning it couldn't be separated, and when I untied the knot the two halves of the length were too small to be of any use at all! Needless to say I contacted Anchor immediately and expressed my dissatisfaction... and to their credit a woman named Claire got back to me within ten minutes with an apology and an offer to replace the thread. Not only that but the next day when my replacement thread arrives I notice that they've sent me a full 8m skein instead of just the one 1/2m length that I needed. Now THAT is customer service! Another well done to Anchor. I have to admit that I rarely buy Anchor kits since my stash is almost entirely DMC, but their customer service is impeccable! I will definitely be buying more anchor kits in the future! (Especially because DMC exclusives are nothing special these days.)

Day 4 Progress Picture - I had no more
white thread left after this.
That said, if you buy this kit, expect to run out of thread! I'm very grateful that they did send me the full 8m skien for the backstitch because the ammount supplied really would not have been enough! Not by a long shot! By the fourth day of stitching I had also run out of white. Now I can see what they've done and why the dicrepencies have occurred, or at least I think I've figured it out...

  • The backstitching calls for you to use the same colour both as 1 strand and as 2 strands. If you backstitch entirely in 1 strand there is enough to complete the design, however if you work the letters with two strands as the instructions state you will run out.
  • The white thread puzzled me quite a bit since the board with the letter O on it takes a full meter of white thread and....only 1 meter is supplied. To put that in perspective, there is a shade of pink only used in the cheeks and feet of the bears, they have supplied the same 1 meter length of thread for that as they have done for the white which is in every bear, the white board and every other letter. There is absolutely no way on earth they have supplied enough, but they have supplied ample ammounts of the very pale cream used in the bears, so I assume whoever worked out thread lengths counted some of the white as cream, since thei symbols are slightly similar? Who knows. But again, I contacted Anchor and they did supply an additional skien of white thread for me. So well done them.I actually only contacted them to point out the problem and got my husband to pick me a skien up from the shops, so it was a lovely surprise to find that they had sent me a skien too.
My last word of warning is to make sure that you have a sharp needle to hand for the backstitch. This design doesn't always keep to the established holes and you can find yourself going through the middle of a stitched block which is a bit difficult with a blunt needle... in fact my origional needle snapped the first time I attempted it. Thankfully I ave a great many needles in my stitching box so I carried on uninterupted. 

Despite all of this, the whole piece only took 19 days to stitch! I made it a little bit of a private race for myself, trying to see which project I would complete first, this or my baby... My due date was the 26th giving me roughly 19 days to complete both. Which would it be? Turns out, this piece took exactly 19 days to complete and beat the babys arrival by days. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

First...and last baby blanket

Designer: Nikol Lohr
Pattern: Hoodie baby blanket
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free download
When we discovered that I was pregnant, my mother claimed all blanket making rights and set about her job right away. She made blankets for all three beds, car seat, pram, swaddling, playtime and even a tiny comforter. I've never felt the need to make any myself and I wouldn't waste the money on buying since she's supplied several of each type and hers are much nicer than the shops. I almost left the whole thing to my mother as I have no patience for working such things. They take so much time and there's so little of interest for me in them, but I needed a project for a knitting group and I thought I'd give a hooded swaddling blanket a go.

I'm glad I did have a go at it because now I can say that yes, I have made a blanket... and no, I probably won't ever make another one ever again! The whole thing was a lesson in tedium, and that's even after I changed the pattern. Initially it was a simple stocking stitch pattern with a simple garter stitch edging. I changed the main body to basket stitch and put a frilled edging on instead. It worked out wonderfully, and it looks and feels gorgeous! It's a winter blanket and I can't wait to wrap my baby up in it against the chill, but...I had very little interest in the thing as I worked it. It literally served as a way to keep my hands busy while I did other thngs such as read, watch tv and chat.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Midnight Garden Shawl

Brand: Sirdar
Item: Cotton 4ply
Available from: Deramores
Price: £5.89

Brand: Rico Design
Item: Fashion fantasy DK
Available from: Deramores
Price: £3.49

Designer: Angel Grimes
Pattern: Midnight Garden Party Shawl
Available from: Ravelry
Price: £3

After all the baby knitting I've been doing recently, I'm happy to bring you something a bit more grown up. This time it's one of my own designs and something I was asked to make for my mother who attended a garden party at the end of June. She bought a beautiful navy dress with pretty flowers and butterflies on it and wanted a shawl to go with it that was lacy enough to show off her dress, but would keep the chill off her arms. So I came up with this design.

I decided to use cotton yarns because they're a nice cool fibre for summer knitting and the main body had to be navy so it went well with her dress. For that reason I went with the Sirdar cotton 4ply as it comes in a beautiful range of colours with the usual expectation of value and quality. Naturally it was a delight to work with!

The second yarn I choose needed to be cotton, but I needed a dappled variation to it that would work well with the dress, the Sirdar and the pattern. Apparently this is a tall order and the only yarn I was able to find that fit the bill was Rico's Fashion Fantasy in DK. I spent a while umming and ahhing about it because it is twice as thick as the Sirdar, but in the end I decided to go with it for the following reasons:
  • It is cotton and so even though it's a thicker yarn and thus knits up to a different tension, it's not drastically noticeable.
  • The tension would be different anyway since this yarn is used for the contrasting bands and doesn't follow the same lace pattern of the main body.
As it happens, the two yarn work beautifully together and the contrasting thicknesses works incredibly well with the pattern as the main body is designed to be light and airy, while the contrasting sections are featured. I really liked both yarns and am so happy that I bought two balls of the Rico even though I only ended up using the one because it now means that I can make something for myself in it.

The pattern is currently being test knit and is due to go live at the end of the month, but since it's my pattern I can tell you that it is both simple and complex at the same time. The main body is worked in a very simple, easy to memorize lace pattern that works up very quickly, but the contrasting bands require a fair bit more effort and it is because of the lengthy instructions involved in them that the pattern has only been written and not charted.