Welcome

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, 31 December 2014

Happy holidays

The holiday season is winding down and the new year is hurrying towards us. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your year, I hope it was a good one. I hope you have many memories to look back on with fond smiles and warm feelings. I've been rather absent over the festive period, but then, it's a time for family in our house and blogging didn't seem particularly in keeping with that. But it didn't seem right to finish the year without one last post.

And while we're talking about last things of the year...I did manage to squeeze out one final finish for this year. A birth sampler for a very good friend of mine who is currently expecting her sixth child! 

Designer: Joan Elliott
Item: Woodland Birth sampler
Available from: Amazon
Price: Usually around £20

Please excuse the colour, apparently my camera decided to turn all my photos a little blue for a short time. I have a love hate relationship with this piece because while the animals were incredibly fun and quick to work up, the border was insane! Far too much confetti stitches to be enjoyable, but you have to admit, it does look good for it! Now to store the design until the little guy is born and I can fill out his details.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

SAS Dog coat Part 2 - Santa Paws

Welcome to part 2 of my SAS dog coat pattern, and while this entry isn't exactly a free pattern, it does transform the coat from the plain garment at the end of the last post into something very different, and it's very easy to do. What is it? It's the basic crochet edging.

Now I know a lot of knitters shy away from the word crochet, and why wouldn't you? It's so very different to knitting, and then there's the fact that different meanings are assigned to the same words depending on which country you're in. But this is very basic and we can really dumb down the instructions on it too! So if this is your first time, give me your hand, I'm going to hold it all the way through.

So what I've done is I've got a 4mm crochet hook (the size isn't exactly vital to this part of the project, if you only have a 4.5 that's fine too, you just want it to be something similar to the needles you used for the knitting) and some very cuddley fluffy white yarn. The chunkier the better, Mine's King Coles Cuddles in chunky. So to start we simply make a slip knot, same as for knitting and place that on the hook as our first stitch. Then we're just going to DC (double Crochet) along the edge of the knitting.



Ready for that hand holding?
With your slip knot over your hook, slide the hook through the edge of your knitting (so you have your white slip knot followed by your red knitted stitch) and simply drape your white yarn over the top of your hook and pull it back through your knitting.
You now have two white stitches on your hook. So we're going to drape your white yarn over your hook again and pull that through the two stitches already on your hook leaving you with just one stitch again.
Then repeat. All along the edge. It is literally that easy. When you get to the end, just finish as you would at the end of a bind off in knitting. Cut the yarn and pull it through the live stitch.





Now I've taken inspiration from the season and the seasonal nickname with give Paws the dog every year (Santa Paws) but you could take it in a whole different direction, and not just with the SAS dog coat, but any knitted garment.

Another direction you could take this in is if your knitted piece features two colours. Take the secondary colour and work the edge in that, use a single crochet stitch for a narrow edging or a triple for a thicker edging. This is a washcloth I made for a little girl, the edging it done in the secondary colour and in a triple crochet. You could even get adventurous and find different stitches such as a shell stitch and make the edging even more decorative! The options are endless and infinately lovely! I hope this inspires you to break from the pattern a little and have a go at putting your own mark on your knitting.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

SAS dog Coat - Part 1

My previous freebie pattern seems to be doing so well that I thought I'd offer up another. This one was sort of comissioned by my mother, she asked me to write her a pattern for a dog coat that she could sell to raise money for the safe and sound charity auction so I thought I'd give it a whirl, Paws could always do with another dog coat.

Now unlike my other dog coat which is availible to buy through ravelry, this one is a lot smaller and thicker and simpler. It's done in Aran yarn with quite a tight tension to make it warm and uses only stocking and garter stitches with a small ammount of decreases for the shaping. It's a very simple pattern, but keep coming back because I also decided that such a simple pattern is the perfect subject for a mini blog series on how to jazz up your knitting and turn that simple, basic pattern into something a bit nicer.

First things first...our pattern:
I used Jarol baby ramber aran and the whole pattern uses less than 1 ball.

You will need:
4mm knitting needles
Aran Yarn
stitch holder
Darning needle
4 buttons
Waste yarn to attach buttons
Tension
4 stitches and 6rows to an inch in stocking stitch
Measurements
Back length = 35cm approx
Girth = 46cm approx
For a longer back length work more than 80 rows before you bind off for the neck. Be sure to measure against your dog as you go.
For a wider Girth, you're best bet is to work more than the 29 rows before the buttonholes. Again measure against your dog.
These changes are only recommended for slight alterations and this will not facilitate you trying to make this coat for an akita.

CO 66
Knit 11 rows
Knit 6, purl 54, knit 6
Repeat last two rows for a grand total of 80 rows
K23 and place on a stitch holder, Bind off 19, k23
Left side
K6, p15, P2tog tbl
SSK, k to end
K6, p13, P2tog tbl
SSK, k to end
K6, p11, P2tog tbl
SSK, k to end
K6, p9, P2tog tbl
SSK, k to end (15 stitches)
K6, p9
K to end
Repeat last two rows for a total of 16 rows
BO
Right side
Transfer stitches from stitch holder with WS facing
P2tog, p15, k6
K to last two stitches, K2tog
P2tog, p13, k6
K to last two stitches, K2tog
P2tog, p11, k6
K to last two stitches, K2tog
P2tog, p9, k6
K to last two stitches, K2tog (15 stitches)
P9, k6
K to end
Repeat last two rows for a total of 16 rows
BO
Pick up and knit 15 stitches from the centre of the left edge of the body
Work 29 rows in Garter Stitch
K4,YO, K2tog, k3, SSK, YO,K4
Work 9 rows in Garter stitch
K4,YO, K2tog, k3, SSK, YO,K4
SSK, K to last 2 stitches, K2tog
Repeat decrease row a total of 4 times
BO

Attach buttons to right side lining up with the button holes and weave in the ends

Part 2

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Post Pals

Post Pals - Putting a Smile on Childrens FacesSo my new craft room is coming along beautifully! I've almost got it to a workable state and will be able to use it as my craft office properly again very shortly! So to celebrate I got my penpal supplies out and...promptly realised that I'm actually up to date with all my correspondance! Well that's great, but I really wanted to write, so I took to the trusty google and searched for new penpals. Which is how I found a site called Post Pals which broke my heart. The site contains a list of very sick children and a mailing address for each one (not a home address) with the wonderful idea of sending them little pieces of happy mail to coax a smile from them. It's a beautiful thought and I strongly urge anyone reading this blog to get involved. Just a postcard with a silly joke. Less than a pound. Whenever you can.

Personally I plan on sending every single child on that site a little something. It could be just a hand made card, or a silly drawing with a letter, but I aim to try and give each child a present too. Nowe my funds are really low at the moment, loosing my job and moving house, but I've already sent three children a little something.

Ella C

Ella is a beautiful  little girl who suffers from CRF, but her smile lights up the room. I've never met her, just click her name and look at her, she's beautiful! She's so poorly.

She was the first name I clicked on so her gift is just a card and a drawing, I hadn't really got the swing of things yet, but her envelope gave me the confidence to make the next ones bigger, so I really want to send her something else a little later on.

Her profile states that she loves pink, cream and Frozen, so I made her a 3D card featuring pink and cream. The card actually stands about an inch thick at the kitties face. Then I decorated the back of the envelope with "Elsa" who I apparently cannot draw! So I put Ellas name next to her in blue glitter and sealed the whole thing with snowflake deco tape.

Poppy and Coral

Poppy has just undergone FIVE organ transplants! Can you imagine? She's not even ten! I can't even imagine the life that sweet little girl has had, or the difficulty and fear her family has been through. She's currently in a HDU in London...about 250 miles from her home and her little sister Coral. I'd be so scared but she sounds so brave and strong. I remember my sister being in hospital when I was a child, it's a mental scar that's never healed and has fueled my phobia of the places ever since. My sister had an Astma attack and the hospital was in the same city, she was home inside a week. Poppy had her transplants a month ago and is still there. I needed to make both girls a present, something soft, something that could be a sister thing. I settled on these knittens. They're practically identical, but the top is a varigated yarn and has a mottle to it. One bear seems to have slightly murkey polka dots and the other has random lighter flashes. The important thing is, they're soft, they're small and they have a snap fastener on one paw so when you put them together they hold paws.

Poppy is a huge fan of postman Pat. and the colour pink. I wanted her card to feature both things, but as anyone who has ever watched Postman Pat knows, he's predominantly blue. I can't remember much of Postman Pat, I haven't watched it in years, but I vaguely remember him liking tea and cake... I may have made that up, but in my head he does, so I have some pretty teapot shaped, blue cards featuring pink roses. I thought they'd tie my lovely waving cartoon in with the more girly bear quite nicely. So here's Poppys package.
Coral likes sparklie things, her favourite colour is purple and she loves girley things and Disney. Sadly, my cardmaking supply cupboard is really low on childrens items. I need to go shopping. So this is what I came up with for her card. The lady looks like a girly princess, the entire thing is different shades of purple and I've added glitter to the hair and dress, not to mention writing her name in glitter! Hopefully she'll love it.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

We’ve moved!

And I hope that we never have to ever again! It's a nightmare and a comedy of errors that resulted in a major freakout and then almost ended in tears. I won't go into details but just imagine that everything went wrong. You've got a pretty good image in your head. Also, our new house is smaller than our old one and we have far too much stuff! To give you an idea, our livingroom, hallway, stairs, downstairs loo and kitchen would all have fit into my previous kitchen, but I'm determined to fit it all in, especially the craft supplies because...once again I'm a very lucky lady and have a dedicated craft room. It's about half the size of my old one, but it's not going to be needed as a nursery (we have one of those already) or a man office (the loft is half converted and just needs finishing) so it's all mine. It's really quite cosy too, the smaller space seems to be much better for the feel of it all.

There's still vast ammounts of things to be unpacked and the state of my craft room should give you an idea of just what a mammoth task this really is. We've been here for two weeks now and my craft room is the most organized room in the whole house...naturally. The second organized being the bedroom simply because those are the two rooms I spend the most time in. Sorry, that's how I unpack. Most lived in rooms first, least lived in rooms last, so a load of stuff is just piled in the living room and nursery. I will get there though.

Other than the house though, I'm really settling in. I keep getting lost walking the dog, but I'll find my way eventually, and exploring is really rather fun for the most part. I've found a little craft shop and I know my way to a specialist knitting shop and hobbycraft too. I've found a group of very local knitters to play with...sadly the local libraries are really uninspiring so I still have to do some looking there, but I have found a reasonably priced framing shop and I'm a lot nearer my family...plus...Sheffield has always been my true home so I'm just so glad to be back! 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Stormy Days

Designer: pamela wynne
Pattern: February Lady Sweater
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free Download

When I worked for Wye needlecraft we were only allowed to wear non colours; black, white, beige and grey. So when I came across yarn I liked in those colours I'd pick some up. This yarn I actually found in Aldi the week it opened in Chesterfield. It was a 400g ball and cost me something like £6, so I thought it was going to be cheap and nasty, you know how cheap acrylic is? I was pleasently surprised, sure it's acrylic but it's actually really soft and lovely! I mean it's never going to compare to alpaca, but at the same time I'd happily put it on a child, and that was fantastic for me as it seemed like the perfect thing for a work jumper. Something that's going to get left in the office for days, crumpled up, dropped on the floor, tossed in a bag and undergo all sorts of hardships.

I called it my stormy Days cardi because I cast it on in the middle of an October Storm. Interestingly I finished it in the middle of another October storm. However the name prooved to be a little more true than I first imagined as once I'd cast on I handed my notice in, and then the shop starting hitting a rather rough patch. Sadly, I've never worn this at work, which was the whole point in knitting it. That's why it has short sleeves and only buttons across the bust, making it easier to work in, adding heat without overheating me as I run around all day.

Still, it's that time of year and it's a pretty design, I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of it over time. So I picked the prettiest buttons, for £1.38 each! I've never bought such expensive buttons, but they really suit the design, Large and bulky, but sweetly delicate. Prooving, as my very good friend suesan put it, that "the flowers are there despite the storm".

Anyway, it's a lovely pattern, really easy to memorize and work on the buss or wherever you go. After I got onto the lace section I didn't even bother using the pattern, the 4 row repeat was so easy so I just worked it until it was long enough. Same with the sleeves.

This is not a pattern for petite women though, if you're slender it will need some alterations because my size was only the second one on the pattern and I like my jumpers oversized. Means I can layer up. This one is a perfect idea though for the larger women out there who may sometimes struggle to find a pretty pattern in their size.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Mishka Stocking

Todays piece is not my best work, not by a long shot, but it's something I was asked to do. Basically my mum has about 60 Christmas sacks which she hopes to sell to raise money for Safe and Sound dog rescue. Someone, I think it was my mum, thought they'd sell for more if they were personalized. So my mum decides that she's going to cross stitch names onto these sacks, which sounds all well and good, but that's going to take her forever and as much as I love cross stitch there are faster and prettier ways, so I told her to just embroider it on and sold her some perle cotton stating that you could stitch a name in like ten minutes if you use stem stitch, or you could even use chain stitch if you want the bulk. Well one of these sacks was destined for her dog, Mishka, and so it was decided that I would do Mishkas name and she would use that as an example.

I stitches an odd letter that may have been a W, an M an E or even a 3 depending on how you looked at it. Once in Chain stitch and once in Stem stitch. My mum decided that she liked the stem stitch better but that she wanted the lettering in a cursive script, which doesn't really go well together, but as it's what she wanted it's what she got.

Step one was to open microsoft word and Write Mishkas name, then change the font to one my mum liked. Next we chose the placement for it and changed the size to suit. Then I simpley printed it off, cut the name out and pinned it in place. The rest was pretty easy, just chain stitch over the lettering and once it's complete you just pull the paper out, using a needle to work any small straggling pieces free.

The end result is flowing letters stitched directly onto the fabric. It takes about 20 minutes, although this one didn't because when I say twenty minutes, I mean twenty minutes of concentration. It is fast and pretty easy to do, but you need to focus to make it neat. As it is, I think it's too bulky, but it's what my mum wanted and she's happy with it. So that's what matters. That said, I'd love to do another one in a thinner, more delicate stem stitch for somebody. Interested? Well you can enter my giveaway to win one using the widget below, just tell me what name you would like on your sack and a winner will be chosen at random

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Christmas tree o hypocrite...

First of all, let me begin this blog by saying that I am NOT a Christmas stitcher. Heck, I'm not a Christmas person. Now I'm not saying that I dislike it, heck you should see our house come December, but I loathe how early it starts! It seems like once the summer solstice is done all anyone can think of is Christmas and sometimes it's even earlier. I so wish I could have punched the person who put "52 weeks until Christmas" as their facebook status! It's too much and it makes me really aggressively against it. Once winter gets here I'm fine, but why is all year just devoted to the next Christmas?

And now that's out of the way...Look at my christmas make! I know, hence Christmas tree o hypocrite. Far more interesting days ahead, not least of which is Samhain, a holiday I actually celebrate. So why did someone who is so against unseasonable Christmas crap stitching Christmas crap? Well... Quite simply, I wanted something quick and easy as a change of pace from my big projects and I just so happened to pick up a Christmas copy of cross stitch crazy that had a section called "Crazy for Christmas trees" and the designs were such that I could make one in a day so...I did.

Yes, it feels a bit hypocritical, but...it could have just as easily been anything else. Sadly though, I do think this marks the turn because now I've been seen stitching festive I don't expect it will be long until there's another festive thing and another one...

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Moving onwards...

We're moving.

Origionally my husband and I are both Yorkshire Folk, I'm from Sheffield and he's from Doncaster. We moved to Derbyshire shortly after he proposed, following his career.It made sense at the time and so we settled into it and I eventually took the job in Bakewell. But that's not been the case for a while now. All our family is in Yorkshire, his job is now in Sheffield and I'm out in Nottinghamshire, we're spread thin and the whole thing doesn't make sense anymore. Thirteen days ago we realized that it's time to move on and back. Back home to Yorkshire. We hoped I'd still be able to work at Wye, but...we quickly discovered that would be near impossible, so I handed in my notice.

Moving Day is November 5th.

I'm excited and heavy hearted. Our new house is beautiful! I'll be close to my family which is something I've wanted ever since I left and we have a nursery! My husband is excited because we also have a loft space that's almost entirely converted and he's claimed that as his man cave. It's close to schools, shops, family, friends, in an area I know pretty well (I used to work just down the road from it) and there are some HUGE parks for my precious puppy to play in. I'm going to miss Wye. They've been sort of a substitute family for me. I said goodbye to most of them already and I think that made it all the harder to say goodbye again. I will miss the shop too, especially as there isn't anything like it in Sheffield. 

I will still visit on a monthly basis though. Apparently everyone says that, but I can still get there, it's just a two hour journey! It's not something I can do regularly, but it is one that I will be making. I'm also going to continue running the facebook page from home, so I'll still be connected to them and that does make it easier, but...It's a bittersweet move.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Work Gloves

Designer: Claudia Eisenkolb
Pattern: Gosai Mitts
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free Download


Remember how I told you a wek or so ago that the shop I work at has moved premesis and I've been sort of moved into the office? Well the only problem with that is that the place is either un-heated or badly heated. My boss and co-worker seem to have no problem with it, nor do any of the customers so I'm probably alone in saying this, but I find it really cold to sit at the computer for any length of time. My fingers cramp and then I can't work, so I've been taking in a pair of pink fingerless mittens Daphne made me. That was a great plan until we decided to have breakfast and I didn't specify that they should cook my yolk properly so when I bit into my bacon and egg sandwich...the yolk went all down my gloves and all over my trousers! I quickly washed it off my trousers, but the gloves...they had to be properly soaked to avoid staining and then they just didn't dry all day! I was so cold! So I've decided that I need two pairs for work, one less bright pair for regular wearing and an emergency pair.

This is my emergency pair, knit in Sirdar snuggly, they're done in DK so they worked up REALLY fast, I knit them mostly on the bus to and from work. The simple lace repeat was very easy to memorise and the only two things I would change would be to not cast off for the thumb when it tells you to, just bring that a little bit longer and the picot edge...I found the picot edge instructions in the pattern to be too bulky so I changed it to a simple picot bind off. (Cast on 2 stitches onto the left hand needle at the start of your bind off, bind off 4 stitches, slip the remaining stitch back to the left hand needle and repeat)


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Mums Hat

Brand: Stylecraft
Item: Senses Lace
Available from: Deramores
Price: £3.29

Somehow I've been labelled as obsessed with hats! That's a new one on me as my real obsession is shawls, one can never have too many of them, but my latest FO is indeed another hat. In fact you might recognise this one because it's exaactly the same pattern as appeared a while back in My favourite thing, but this is a commission by my mother. You see, ever since I knit this hat for myself my mother has been trying to get her fingers on it, so I told her I would make her one if she bought the yarn but hands off mine.

She bought the yarn. From Scarborough I believe. I have to say, I love the yarn! It's so soft and pretty and knits up in a beautiful heathery effect. It's got a sumptous drape, shimmer and texture to it that reminds you of silk, but at the same time it's got this warm halo around it that tells you quite clearly that it is in fact mohair. More acurately it's a mohair acrylic blend. It doesn't look or feel like acrylic, but it is, and that means that my mum isn't going to destroy this. You see there's a rather notorious story about a certain hand knit sweater that got put in the washing machine in our household, nothing new about that I'm sure everyone has these stories. I lost a shawl to the washing machine myself. The difference is, my mum learnt not to handwash hand knits, but to make sure hand knits are washing machine safe. Everything goes in and if it can't she doesn't want it. So the fact that this is acrylic is a godsend because t is so lovely and it is washing machine safe.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Work on the radio!

Well the move from Bakewell to Mansfield is "complete" now. We've lost virtually everyone and it's just the bosses and two employees; Diane and myself. The back rooms are still full of boxs and it's going to take us about a year to fully unpack ourselves, but despite all of this, I love the new shop. It's bigger, lighter, more foot traffic and it feels good. It's a lot of hard work, and it will be for a long time yet, but it's also a lot of fun too.

This shop is like a maze with multiple mini levels and rooms on the ground floor and then a further two floors upstairs, so I thought I'd show you how the shop looked on opening day in our first room. Since then we've unpacked even more and there are now no empty spaces on the walls! So now it's getting a little harder to unpack as we're having to think very carefully about where everything else is going, and here's the interesting thing...we keep unpacking charts and kits we didn't even know we had! Our shopping lists have all grown!

I'm really hoping thatwe get more footfall here than we did in Bakewell and for that reason radio Mansfield is down there today broadcasting live from the shop (on my day off no less! So dissapointed I won't be there, but I've been tuned in since 8 to make sure I don't miss out). So please, do come and visit us if you're in the area, ask for Angel and say hello to me, or just have a look around around.

10-16 Churchside
Mansfield
Nottinghamshire
NG18 1AP

9:30am -5:00pm
Monday - Saturday

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pink Dahlia

Brand: Katia
Item: Air lux
Available from: Love Knitting
Price: £5.99

Designer: Andrea Jurgrau
Pattern: Blue Dahlia
Available from: New Vintage Lace: Knits Inspired by the Past
Price: £15.99
This project is not one for the faint of heart, it's not a bad project and the results are well worth the effort, but it still warrants a caution. Both the yarn and the pattern required effort, and using both together prooved to be...well...hard work, but I would deffinately do it again because the results are phenominal! Even if I do say so myself.

First things first... the yarn. I can see where the name comes from! It's like working with air! It's super soft and just drapes beautifully around you in a comforting embrace. It's luxouriously soft and has a magnificent shimmer that make this my new go to accessory for formal events. Surprisingly, despite the light, comforting touch, it's also quite warm and that comes from the merino wool that the rayon has been blended with, but that's also where the problem comes. The merino sheds like crazy! It obscures the stitch pattern as your working, and it's also quite un nerving to be working with a yarn and be able to just scoop clumps of it off your project. My husband walked in on me picking up one of the balls of shedding (the fibres clump like dust bunnies on your project) off the lace so I could inspect it and he was horrified! He thought the project was disintegrating in my hands. He wasn't far off.

The pattern is well written, clear instructions and yes there was an error (row 49, Chart B) in it, but on the whole it was a fantastic charted pattern. The problem is there are four charts and the repeat sections don't line up and they're very complicated in places. So with doing this on holiday, with a shedding yarn that partially obscured the knitted sections I actually struggled in places and had to re-knit several sections on several occassions.

The bind off was a new one for me and has become my new favourite frilly bind off!


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

My Vintage Doiley Beret

Brand: Patons & Baldwins
Item: Nylox 4ply
Available from: Discontinued
Price: Discontinued

Designer: Andrea Jurgrau
Item: Giverny Beret
Available from: New Vintage Lace: Knits Inspired by the Past
Price: £15.99
Working in a needlecraft shop it's not unusual that a lot of the time I spend at work is spent discussing cross stitch and knitting; what we're working on, what we've finished, what we've bought, what we're going to buy, etc So when I finished my last beret it should come as no surprise that I decided to take it in for show and tell. This led to one of my wonderful co-workers telling me about a new book that was coming out. It reminded her of one of the patterns in it and it was mentioned that I would perhaps like the beret pattern there as well. One quick look and I had it on order.

With it being a vintage doiley pattern that had been re-worked into a beret it seemed appropriate to use a "vintage" yarn. I don't know exactly how old the yarn actually is, but Patons hasn't put the second name on it's labels for quite some time now. It's an 80%wool 20% Nylon mix that comes in 1oz balls. I think it came from my grandmothers stash, I'm not in the habbit of buying vintage fibres.

The pattern was surprisingly easy to memorize and I barely even looked at the book once I'd got going. I mean, no two lines are the same but it's a logical progression that just clicked in my head. It was a good thing because I swear I worked half of the beret in the car heading out to Goathland where we were staying. There's not a lot of room in a ford focus fully loaded with four adults luggage for a week, especially when that luggage includes two craft bags, three laptops, a camera bag and a coffee machine, so I'm glad that I didn't have to keep the book out all the time. I think it would have been ruined by the time we got there if I had.

The most annoying part of the design was the ribbing, not for any fault of the pattern, but because I found it repetative and annoying as I do all ribbing I'm afraid.

The yarn was nice, well behaved and came up beautifully. It seems to have two seperate colours plied together. One ply is blue, the other is a brown/black/grey colour depending on the light and angle, which gives this subtle marbling effect that you will probably never see in my photography because, even though my dad spent an hour trying to help me improve my skills, I'm not a good photographer :P

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

C dos

.A while back I saw a rather geeky they I thought my husband would love, and began plotting a project based around it. You see my husband is a computer geek, I don't actually know what he does, but at one point he was a programmer and that's one of his hobbies, all I know is that this little black box of doom (otherwise known as ) not only appears on screen regularly, but is so commonplace that it doesn't even have the standard white text, he customized it to be green! I don't know how, but apparently it's nicer in green. So that was the colour I wanted to put the joke in. Black fabric and green wording. I wanted the gift to be as close to the real thing as possible, I just didn't realize how insane that would drive me.

The reason for this? Well there are two.
1) Stitching on black fabric - People often say that black fafabric is a nightmare and that's put me off working with it before, so this was my first. Yes, it was difficult, I struggled to see the holes clearly, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I'm not itching to do a huge piece on the stuff, but I will use it again.
The alignment - call me ocd but this is killing me. I really wanted to center it but the window is left alligned so i'll live with it, but..... Oh the d's! They dont quite line up, the stalks of the bottom dos is like two stitches further left than the other two, and while that fits with the left alignment thing, it's the most annoying thing ever for me! I don't even know why but argh! 

Still, my husband loves the end result and really that's all that matters.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Kitty craft bag

This design has been on the top of my to stitch list for absolutely years! Since 2008 to be exact, it was one of the designs featured in a magazine called cross stitcher (issue #199) and was featured on white linen sewn onto a grey bag. I always loved the idea of my very own cat craft bag and the project was put at the top of my ever growing list, but I didn't want to stitch it on linen and then sew that to a bag...I wanted to either stitch it on fabric and then make a bag out of that fabric, or to stitch it directly onto a ready made bag, and so the project remained an idea while I worked on other projects. Then, I went to hobbycraft in Sheffield and saw a plain hessian tote bag that would be perfect for my neglected kitty design. 2008 was a fair few years ago though so I had no idea what size my kitty was, and I had no idea what fabric it was stitched onto either! So I made a judgement call and chose the largest size they had!  My kitty fits...with quite a substantial border, but I don't care!

So, as you can see, I stitched directly onto the hessian bag, and let me tell you, this was a lot easier in my head than in reality! That "fabric" is beyond scratchy! And it's a very sturdy bag that made trying to secure my ends a nightmare! But you know...I'd do it again. In fact, I fully plan on adding some more stitching to this bag, starting with some creeping ivy running up the sides!

I wish I could say that was the only thing challenging about this project, but I'd be lying. This was actually one of the most difficult projects that I've ever done, which is quite odd because it's not the largest, nor the most complicated. But as all the colours were so similar I really struggled to tell them apart when it came to putting that sketchy backstitch in, and I've actually had to skip out the odd line because I've obviously put another line in incorrectly and there hasn't been room for it. Also, it's not just the cross stitch that blends together, the white and light grey backstitch are almost invisible in places, which didn't make things any easier! But it's that subtlety that makes this piece so special I think. The fact that I can't tell where the grey becomes white is so realistic and beautiful! And it is a beautiful piece! Worth every difficulty!

And another good thing...three colour changing threads!!! Two for the ball of yarn and one actually in the cats fur! Another reason you can't see clearly where the backstitch goes, the colour changing thread is actually made up of colours already stitched in the design! Just gives a bit more randomness to them. It was fun, and I really enjoyed working it, I was sad to see it completed, but this design has turned an ugly sack bag into my most loved bag, and it works well for both cross stitch and knitting projects, plus, the size is big enough to fit everything for a large cross stitch project inside! I'm so proud of this piece. So happy with the end result!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Dotee for Daphne

Daphne is my other mother. I don't think I'd been on the payroll for a month before someone commented that Daphne could be my mum. It stuck and now it's not at all unusual to hear me call for my mum at work. I love her dearly and I think I shall miss working with her the most and it's mainly for her that I thought about dotee dolls to start with. You see Daphne loves those Babushka dolls and by extension matryoshka and kokeshi dolls too and I figured I could possibly make something similar in felt.

I copied the height from my book, but the shaping and design for this one are completely original. The hair is much more simple this time being only a mustache shaped piece of felt with directional lines running across it and no beads. I also think the face looks a lot more clean and simple. The body however blindsided me. I just could not envision how to decorate her, so I eventually settled only lazy daisy stitches with center beads and a border of beads. I still think it looks very clumsy, but I think Daphne will love it. My husband thinks it's absolutely darling and ordered me not to change a thing, so there must be something there .

I think my style is getting more distinct and I like this one better than my first attempt. Hubby has named her Babushka.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Dotee for Diane


You remember how I told you that my job is moving to Mansfield in September but without all the staff? I'm not even sure how long I'll be able to stay there myself, and it's so sad because we are all just one big family. I'm going to miss everyone so much and even though I know I'll still see them after the move it's heartbreaking to think of going without them. So I really wanted to show them how much they mean to me. And sure, this might seem like a rather childish way but as I'm quite obviously the baby of our little family it also seems somewhat appropriate to make little Dotee dolls. Problem is, I've never made one before, so I picked up a book in London and decided that they were pretty easy and the scope was pretty limitless, so I decided to have a play.

I got myself to hobbycraft and for just over a fiver I picked up 21 different colours of felt. I also picked up several different beads while I was down in London and figured that this was the perfect project to use up my mystery embroidery cottons. So the first one was for Diane. Her favourite colour is pink so I decided to use a baby pink for the dress and my hubby said that the raspberry would look great as her hair. The template...well I kind of used parts from two in my book and adapted them to suit how I wanted it to look, mostly so I had the size right rather than to copy the style, which is a good thing because this looks like neither of the two whose templates I used :P

I embroidered the hair and added some brown beads to create a bit of sparkle and the idea that the hair is actually being blown by the wind. That was the longest part of the entire doll! I also added a beaded flower in her hands as Diane likes flowers and her parents used to run a flower shop, and a pretty pink necklace which does not sit flat! Sorry Di. I used a mattress stitch to sew the pieces together for the most part which gives the edge a pretty braided cord look and hides the line between the two pieces quite beautifully.

Lastly I used a synthetic toy stuffing that came free with a magazine kit and added some dried Lavender from my garden. All in all, I'm quite pleased with how she turned out and I hope Di will love her.

My husband named her Rosie.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Congratulations to Ben and Gina!


A big congratulations for Ben and Gina who were married over the weekend at Whitley Hall Hotel! It was a beautiful day and they both looked beautiful! My husband was one of Bens Groomsmen and  the two have been friends for many years! Unfortunately I've only met Gina once and I think I've met Ben twice, but they're lovely people and I'm so happy for them! I wish them a lifetime of happiness.

So, do you remember the Sampler I created back in May? I personalized that with their details and framed it in a simple gold frame with a deep purple mount. I wasn't sure that they would like it, but I wanted them to have something a bit special because Ben is such a good friend to my Chris. It turns out that I could not have got them a better present!

This wedding was very into handmade! Thank you cards were all handmade die cuts, the gifts they gave out were all hand made and presumably sourced from Etsy, the decorations had this small country wedding theme to them, the favours were in envelopes decorated with buttons. It was beautiful and rustic and perfect, and such a relief for me. Ben loved the gift and held onto it for ages before putting it on the gift table, and Gina came over before the end of the night to thank me personally. Do you want to know something fortuitous though?  This sampler was origionally bought for an aunt of mine who since made it very clear that she no longer wants anything to do with me, so I made it for Ben and Gina, and the colours in the design match PERFECTLY with the colours of their wedding. Pink and purple.

Now you can probably also recognize my Cotton Candy Shawl from last weeks post in this picture. As you remember I made that to wear to this wedding, so...this is how it looked in the end. Originally I was going to wear it with the pink dress hanging on the door. I'd gone all the way to my sisters house to borrow that and some shoes for the day. Bless my darling little sister! She was so nice and spent an hour with me picking out the outfit and even a back-up outfit as the pink dress had a very tight bust and it needed two people to put it on and take it off.So she loaned me a black number as a back-up. On Friday I cracked a rib and could not wear the dress. My husband, however, picked up this purple one that was very easy to put on and went with my shawl and the shoes I'd borrowed. So much so that I actually think it looks like the shawl is part of the dress!




Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cotton Candy Shawl

Designer: Gail Tanquary
Pattern: Lace Pattern Shawlette in DK Panda Silk
Available from: Crystal Palace Yarns
Price: Free download

Brand: Araucania
Item: Ruca Multy
Available from: Raging Wool
Price: $14

I don't know about where you live, but here the weather has been blisteringly hot! It seems that every other person I see on the street is lobster red, which does not make for very comfortable crafting conditions! It's sweaty, it's hot, it's hard to breathe, all you want to do is sit in front of the open freezer! I had several projects on the go and lined up just before the hot weather hit, and none of them have been touched! It's just too hot! However, there is a wedding coming up this weekend and I would love to have a new shawl to wear for it as I will no doubt be outside most of the day and do not want to burst into flames! So this is where plant fibres come into play!

This yarn is made out of sugar viscose and before you ask, no it won't dissolve when it gets wet. What it does do is drape like silk, but with all the cooling properties of exceptionally loosely woven bamboo. It's got a luxurious sheen to it and everyone who touches it cannot get over how soft it is to touch. Which makes it the ideal yarn to work on in this arid heat!

Yarn settled upon, I needed a pattern that was pretty and interesting to work on, but simple enough that I could work on it while my brain slowly fries! This design from crystal palace yarns seemed to meet the criteria, so while we went away for a weekend in the "London" countryside I cast on. It took me four days! But my yardage cut the design short and I had to bind off before I could put the pretty picot edging on. Still...I think it looks fabulous!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A month of worry...

As some of you may already know/have guessed, I work in a needlecraft shop, and not just any needlecraft shop though, but the award winning Wye Needlecraft! Ever since I first discovered it in Bakewell it has been my dream job, and a few years ago I got a life changing phone call from my aunt who was just on her way out of the shop and had to ring me to tell me that they were thinking about hiring someone. I had my CV sent before the phonecall was over. I was given an interview a few weeks later, an interview that I arrived over an hour early for, much to everyones surprise. My explaination...I needed several Mill hill beads, some krienik and a couple of DMC shades, plus...you know...any charts/kits/fabric that jump out at me. Can't ask me to come to a needlecraft shop and not shop...I wasn't even home before my phone rang and they offered me the job. I was delighted!

Things only got better when I actually started to get to know my co-workers. They welcomed me into the "family" and indeed everyone refers to one of the ladies as my mum...including but of us! It was a dream come true and I have enjoyed every second! Last month we were all informed that the shop is moving in September. We weren't told where, just that it was moving, we were all invited to go with it and our jobs were secure...although how a job can be secure if you don't know where it is is a mystery to me. We were all left terrified and wondering. Sure, there's a job for us, but can we get to it? Can the "family" stay together?

Tears were shed, sleep has been lost and there's a knot in my stomach that doesn't show any sign of vanishing before the new year, all we had were tidbits of information random people had managed to glean from conversations, then subjected to hours of scrutiny by every member of staff. I became convinced that we'd be moving to Mansfield, but theories were pretty abstract and there was nothing solid to work with.

Well if my sleep was affected, you know my crafting was. I was picking up a project, listlessly looking at it and doing nothing about it. The heat didn't help either, so I don't actually have anything to show you today, but I do have some good news. On Tuesday the shop closed early and a staff meeting was called. Mansfield was confirmed as our new location. Well...good news for me as I can still get there, My journey time has tripled, my cost has doubled, but I can go with my dream shop.

Unfortunately, I think this was good news to only three people, the two owners and myself. Our family is destroyed as I think we'll be loosing half our staff and everyone else is going to struggle to get there, so I'm not sure if they'll want to follow, but I can finally breathe again, and the new shop looks amazing! I'm looking forward to the move, but I'm devastated by the separation of our little working family.

I don't even know an exact day for the move, but we get the keys at the start of September and have to leave Bakewell by the end of September. We're moving to a road called Churchside in the center of Mansfield, I hope to see some of our long term customers, but also look forward to meeting new customers who we've not seen before.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pretties for my hair


Ok, I will admit it, I'm in love with variegated, yarns and threads alike, but I adore the effects that they can create with such minimal effort.  Especially in embroidery. In knitting you don't really have much control over where the colours go, but in something like cross stitch the possibilities are pretty much endless and I wish my photography skills could show them to you properly.

These designs were taken from issue #192 of a magazine called cross stitch crazy, but designs like this are literally all over the internet. Now once again I've got my 14ct plastic canvas out for these and if you're going to finish them in the same way I strongly recommend that you do too, anything else would just be too flimsy for this and it wouldn't look right, but once again, please note that plastic canvas does not allow for any fractionals. Luckily for me, these designs don't actually have any.


DMC #4030
Then it's a case of picking your threads and how to stitch, but don't be afraid to change things up a bit. For my butterfly I started at the top left wings and stitched in rows, I continued that pattern until the row that connects top and bottom wing and then I changed to working diagonally, the second set of wings is at a 90° angle though so the top wing had to be worked in columns and the bottom is a mirrored diagonal stitch. I started a new thread for each set of wings and a third for the butterflies body, this not only created an interesting colour effect but it helped create the symmetry that butterflies are known for both with the colour and with the pattern.  Ok, I wasted what amounts to half a length of thread doing it this way, but I think the effect is worth it.
DMC #4110 & #4215

The star has a more random colouring effect. I did the outline as a continuous line, the colour came up as the thread was designed, but the filling was more a case of a stitch here, a stitch there. The lack of actual direction gives a somewhat dappled appearance with the colours clustering together rather than going in any clear direction.

Like I say though, the point of threads like these is to experiment and have a play. Don't feel confined or afraid, you don't have to use the same colours that the design tells you, even the same brand. While I have stuck pretty close, that butterfly is supposed to be pink and have two additional stitches. Play with your stash and love your craft. Small things like these are the perfect way to try something new. I hear people say to me all the time "I usually just follow the pattern" or "I love that design, but I hate the colours so I won't stitch it" and my favourite "What is the correct way to..." and my answer is always the same. Play. Enjoy what you're doing, change what doesn't work for you. You cannot do it wrong, you can only discover, but not if you don't play.

So anyway, once you've got your designs stitched in a way that you are happy with and cut out, the next step is to turn them into something useful. Mine are all hair bands. If you want yours to be too then all you need are two things. Hair bands and some invisible threadok and your needle and scissors, then you simply sew the hair band to the plastic canvas. The invisible thread is quite strong so it will hold everything in place, but because it's clear it won't show up on your stitching either. I find this is the best method as glue tends to reduce the elasticity of the band while embroidery cotton just snaps. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Friendship

One of my friends has been having a hard time lately, unfortunately she lives so far away that I can't just go over and give her a cuddle as I would love to do. She isn't even in the same country as me and since I've not even got a passport the best I can do is try and cheer her up through emails.

Well, I was going through my cross stitch books the other day, because I have so many and I don't use them anywhere near as much as I should, and I came across this little sampler. It's nothing extravagant or fancy, it's just a simple home truth. I loved that the message was so poignant and so simple, and I think the decorations reflect that beautifully! So I decided to make it and send it to my friend.
Designer: Jo Verso
Pattern: Friendship
Available from: Cross stitch Cards & keepsakes - Amazon
Price: Originally priced at £11.95 you can now find it anywhere from £3 to £30

Now I did change a couple of things. Firstly I worked it on a sky blue, 14ct aida instead of the beige 30ct that was recommended.Why? I don't know, I had it in my stash and when I saw it I thought it was perfect, thankfully I had the right size blue, but if I hadn't I'd have gone out and bought it anyway. I can't say what it is, but there was something about it that just clicked with me. Secondly, I changed the wording colour. The light grey just didn't work for me and even before I changed the fabric I knew I was changing that. I opted for this wine colour instead because I think it suits the image better. It's a more organic colour and it stands out much without detracting. I didn't think the grey stood out enough, and to darken it you shift the focus from the whole piece to just the wording.

As always, I start in the centre and work outwards as this centres the design on your fabric and makes it easier to frame. Usually I work down and right first, just out of personal preference, but for this design I worked the wording first. From there I had a better sense of how the little country images were going to fit in and in the end opted to leave out an overly simplified blue butterfly and add that final harvest coloured border.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Summer Band

Brand: Twilleys of Stamford
Item: Freedom Echo
Available from: Love knitting
Price: £3.19
This was sent to me a while ago, a prize for being the star letter in an issue of knit now magazine, but I've been stuck on what to do with it. You see, there's only 109 yards (100m) to a ball, which really isn't a lot, so that really cuts down your options. Then there's the colour, it's this beautiful leafy emerald green with sort of a grass green speckle, it's very strong and so quite exclusive. It wants to be a bold statement piece, but my mind has been drawing blanks on it ever since I got it.

The other day we put teal streaks in my hair and while I was getting ready I passed this yarn and suddenly it hit me, this was the perfect colour to wear in my hair now. I wanted it to be a headband! The colour suits my streaks perfectly and instead of being this striking statement piece it just goes with the flow now, the cotton works perfectly too with it being such warm weather lately that I don't think I could wear any other fiber on my head!  But the pattern? I couldn't find anything I liked, so I decided to create one myself, and you'll find that at the bottom of this page, just scroll down.

So, I drew out my design and cast on. Let me just say, Oh wow was it worth the wait! Made from 100% recycled cotton this is such a pleasure to touch! It's so soft and it doesn't pass over my fingers so much as caresses them. That said, it is a very delicate yarn and it does shed a fair bit if you have to undo your work, you know like when you're designing and you get part way through and decide "Actually this would look far better if I did this instead"? Yeah. I got a fair bit of shedding going on while trying to make the tabs look right, but you know what? It recovers nicely too.So do be gentle with it, but don't be afraid of it.

Another thing to note is that this yarn gives a fantastic stitch definition, so even though I've used it for a very simple design here, it would work fantastically on something more complex.



Summer Band Pattern


You will need:
- 4mm knitting needles
- Roughly 40 yards of DK yarn
- 1 button
- A tapestry needle
CO 4
  1. knit
  2. knit
  3. k1, m1, k2, m1, k1
  4. knit
  5. k1, m1, k2, yo (x2*), k2, m1, k1
  6. k3, p3, k3
  7. k3, m1, k3, m1, k3
  8. k3, p5, k3
  9. k4, yo, k7
  10. k3, p6, k3
  11. k3, m1, k2, yo, k7
  12. k3, p8, k3
  13. k3, m1, k4, yo, k7
  14. k3, p10, k3
  15. k3, m1, k6, yo, k7
  16. k3, p12, k3
  17. k3, k2tog, k5, yo, k1, yo, k2, ssk, k3
  18. k3, p12, k3
  19. k3, k2tog, k4, yo, k3, yo, k1, ssk, k3
  20. k3, p12, k3
  21. k3, k2tog, k3, yo, k5, yo, ssk, k3
  22. k3, p12, k3
  23. k3, k2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k5, ssk, k3
  24. k3, p12, k3
  25. k3, k2tog, k1, yo, k3, yo, k4, ssk, k3
  26. k3, p12, k3
  27. k3, k2tog, yo, k5, yo, k3, ssk, k3
  28. k3, p12, k3
    Repeat rows 17-28  a total of 8 times
  29. k3, k2tog, k2tog, k3, yo, k1, yo, ssk, ssk, k3
  30. k3, p10, k3
  31. K3, k2tog, k2tog, k1, yo, k3, ssk, k3
  32. k3, p8, k3
  33. k3, k2tog, k1, yo, k1, ssk, ssk, k3
  34. k3, p6, k3
  35. k3, k2tog, yo,ssk, ssk, k3
  36. k3, p4, k3
  37. k3, k2tog, ssk, k3
  38. k3, p2, k3
  39. k2, ssk, k2tog, k2
  40. knit
  41. k1, ssk, k2tog, k1
  42. knit
    BO
Use your tapestry needle to attach a button to the tab that you have just bound off, and weave your ends in.

*in this instance a double yarn over is worked by wrapping your yarn twice around your right needle, however, instead of working this as two stitches on the next row you work it as one and drop the second wrap. This creates a larger hole so that you can use a larger button than normal. You can however work only one yo if you are happy with a smaller button hole.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Matching gloves

Following on from a post I made on June 11th, entitled my favourite thing, I bring you my new matching gloves! Created with the yarn left over from my pretty beret.

Designer: Anniki Leppik
Pattern: Rose garden
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free download

This pattern has been on my to knit list for several months now, laying forgotten in an ever growing list of pretties until I went searching for something special to match my special hat. Once again I fell in love with the design and decided to stop the search and cast on.

The design itself is incredibly simple to work, using basic stocking stitch, ribbing and the most basic lace pattern in existence (making it an ideal project if your thinking about working lace in the round for the first time), but what that means is that it's perfectly suited to those special variegated yarns whose colours can get a little lost in overly complicated patterns. There's still a touch of femininity about it, but it lets the yarn do the talking and that creates a very subtle effect.

Personally though, I don't think these gloves can be called finished without adding a couple of extra embellishments. I always love the idea of adding lace and ribbons and pretty extras, but I very rarely do it because it usually just weights the item and makes it look heavy and ostentatious, rather than pretty and delicate, but with this I really think the embellishments do a LOT for the design. For mine I bought some ribbon from a sale bin, I think it was about 25p and I got enough to make around six pairs of these, the flowers were a little more expensive, each bunch costing me a grand total of 75p! So the embellishments don't have to be expensive or extravagant, in fact, I think the simplicity of my chosen embellishments goes pretty nicely with the overall theme of the gloves. Delicate, feminine, and simple.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Doggy Doo bag holders

My mother is heavily involved with a charity called safe and sound, it's an animal charity that takes pound dogs off of death row and puts them in shelters. Why? Well because according to UK law, pound dogs can be terminated if they are unclaimed after a week. That means healthy dogs are being murdered on a daily basis. It's quite sick and it makes everyone in my family really very angry! So my mum, runs a fundraiser on facebook. It's really easy and it makes a difference. Basically it's an online charity shop, but she's always struggling to find enough items to sell.  I try and help out by donating things I have laying around but... well I also like to knit. Items for gods and people sell really well, but not baby stuff which is my go to quick project, so I had to find some new ideas. Initially I was going to put together some dog treat bags but then this caught my attention:
 

Pattern: Doggie poo bag pouch
Designer: Kathy Glaes
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free download

 

I think these are my new favourite stash buster! They're really quick and easy to make and they only require tiny amounts of 4ply yarn, so they use up all those pretty remnants left over from shawls and other larger items where the yarn is just too yummy to waste. The bag is worked in the round, starting at the top and working down, then an i-cord is made for the drawstring. It's really easy to master and shouldn't take you more than a few hours to make one of these babies.

The benefit to these is it's just so much prettier than having poo bags on display. I don't know how well they'll sell but I'm having a red one to go with my dogs outfit and a black one to go with mine. Since my black dog is always dressed in red and black goes with pretty much everything I own. I think they'll look pretty nifty, and be a heck of a lot more durable than those plastic bone shaped dispensers that we've already managed to destroy.